Trump Says Republican senators 'look like fools' after health Bill's failure

US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference on healthcare at the White House on July 24, 2017.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference on healthcare at the White House on July 24, 2017. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - President Donald Trump on Saturday (July 29) scolded Congress for looking "like fools" and urged Republican senators not to be "total quitters" as he insisted that his push to overhaul the nation's healthcare law remained viable, the day after it was rejected by the Senate.

To reinforce his demand, the president threatened to cut lawmakers' own health insurance plans if Congress failed to revive the flagging seven-year effort to roll back the medical care programme of former President Barack Obama.

"Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!" Trump wrote Saturday afternoon on Twitter.

It was the latest in a series of tweets he posted throughout the day, beginning shortly after 7am, revealing how unsettled the president remains in losing a Senate vote to overhaul healthcare.

One person familiar with his thinking said Trump was particularly focused on the unexpected defection of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who temporarily shelved cancer treatment in his home state and flew back to Washington to reject the president's efforts with a dramatic thumbs-down vote.

Trump is holding out hope that the Senate will return to healthcare in September and bypass parliamentary obstacles to approve it by a simple majority, according to the person familiar with the president's thinking, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

 

Indeed, several of Trump's tweets Saturday criticised use of the Senate filibuster, including one that specifically targeted Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the majority leader.

"Mitch M, go to 51 Votes NOW and WIN. IT'S TIME!" the president said earlier in the day. "Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don't go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time."

Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate. The proposal this past week to repeal portions of the healthcare law, as long demanded by Trump, required a simple 51-vote majority to pass, but failed. It was not clear how he expected to win enough votes, or what might be different, with a new effort.

By mid-afternoon, Trump escalated his attack on lawmakers by taking aim at their own healthcare plans.

"If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!" he wrote on Twitter.

The president has sought for months to end federal subsidies for insurance markets. And as recently as Friday, staunch conservatives have demanded the end of a special subsidy for House and Senate lawmakers, and their staffs, through a District of Columbia insurance exchange, instead of a system specifically for federal employees.

In a statement Saturday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and the minority leader, said that healthcare costs would rise for millions of Americans should the federal subsidy for insurance markets be scrapped.

"The president ought to stop playing politics with people's lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting presidential," Schumer said.

Trump's repeated criticisms of Senate process also have rankled Republican leaders.

Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for McConnell, declined to comment on Trump's posts. "If the leader issues any statements, we'll be sure to pass along," she said.