In two separate appearances today, President Trump claimed Republicans have the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare – despite a vote on the bill being derailed this week after enough senators publicly voiced their opposition.
The president first made this claim while speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House ahead of his trip to Indianapolis to sell his tax plan.
“We have the votes for healthcare. We have one senator that’s in the hospital. He can’t vote because he’s in the hospital,” he said. “We have two other votes that are coming, and we will have them. But the problem is we can’t have them by Friday — because the reconciliation ends on Friday. So we’ll have to do it in January or February. But I feel we have the votes.”
The president repeated the assertion at his speech in Indianapolis later in the afternoon.
“We have the votes on Graham-Cassidy,” he said. “We have a wonderful senator, great, great senator who is a yes vote, but he’s home recovering from a pretty tough situation.”
The senator the president was referring to is likely Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who is recovering from an urological issue at his home in Mississippi. Following the president’s initial statement, the senator made clear he has not been in the hospital this week, and an aide to Cochran told ABC News that, if needed, the senator would have been able to come back to Washington this week.
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But even if Cochran were to come back, there’s no indication Republicans now have the votes to pass their repeal and replace plan before a September 30th reconciliation deadline, which allows them to pass the health care measure with only a simple majority of 51 votes.
In its current form, Sens. Rand Paul, John McCain, Susan Collins and Ted Cruz say they cannot support the Graham-Cassidy bill. At least two other key senators, Lisa Murkowski and Mike Lee, have yet to stake out a position and have voiced concerns. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes, and three Republican no votes would kill the measure.
Senate Republican leadership announced yesterday that a vote would not be held on the measure this week.
“We’ve made the decision since we don’t have the votes, we’ll postpone that vote,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, who helped craft the plan, said yesterday.