WASHINGTON DC, USA – US President Donald Trump traveled down Pennsylvania Avenue to the US Congress Tuesday, March 21, warning fellow Republicans not to oppose his healthcare reforms in a key vote this week.
In a significant flex of presidential muscle, Trump warned House Republicans they will face the electorate’s wrath if they do not vote to repeal and replace Obamacare this Thursday, March 23.
For years Republicans have promised to overturn Obama’s reform, describing it as government overreach, but some lawmakers have balked at their own party’s replacement plan.
Trump warned fellow Republicans they could lose their legislative control of Congress if they fail.
“Many of you came in on the pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Trump said, according to one source in the room.
“I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don’t get this done.” Trump is said to have added: “Honestly, a loss is not acceptable folks.”
One House Republican, Chris Collins, said Trump didn’t mince words in delivering the message to Republicans that the control of Congress was in the balance.
“The message was, if we don’t get this done, we’re going to lose the House and the Senate next year. He was that blunt,” the New York Republican lawmaker said, referring to the 2018 mid-term elections.
“We deliver on this, then we do tax reform, then we pick up 10 Senate seats next year’,” Collins said, recounting Trump’s words.
Trump also singled out specific lawmakers who oppose him – including one-time supporter Mark Meadows – raising the specter of the president opposing opponents’ re-election.
The stakes are also high for Trump himself, with a failure calling his political clout into question, as well as his legislative agenda.
Trump has warned that tax reform – a goal of many Republicans – and reforming trade pacts depend on getting healthcare reform done.
Victory would be a major boost for Trump’s credibility, proving he can translate deal making in business into deal making in government.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan – one of the bill’s architects and chief champions – has garnered support to repeal Obama’s healthcare plan, but there is less consensus about what should replace it.
Ryan indicated he was happy to have Trump’s support.
“President Trump was here to do what he does best, and that is to close the deal,” said Ryan, in a reference to Trump’s reputation as a businessman who drives a hard bargain.
“He is all in, and we are all in to end this Obamacare nightmare,” said Ryan, pointing out that repealing the healthcare reform was a promise made by numerous Republicans during the November presidential and congressional elections.
“We made a promise that we would repeal and replace this disastrous law and we are going to keep our word,” Ryan said.
Some Republicans complain the replacement plan is too similar to Obamacare, merely reducing health coverage subsidies with refundable tax credits.
Some in the party also have called for changes to a provision in the bill that rolls back the expansion of Medicaid, the health coverage program for the poor and the disabled.
Party leaders made tweaks to the bill late Monday, March 20, which they hope will allay concerns enough for the bill to squeak by in Thursday’s vote.
If it passes, the Senate is expected to take up the measure in early April. Opposition there is likely to be equally stiff. – Rappler.com