Politics

Trump Insists Senate Has Health Care Votes, But Not by Deadline

Tweets come one day after GOP leaders pull the plug on latest version of health care overhaul

Sen. Lindsey Graham, flanked by members of GOP leadership, speaks to reporters about his health care bill following the Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the Senate has enough votes to pass a bill aimed at repealing and replacing the 2010 health care law — but not in time for the Sept. 30 deadline.

But the president’s vote count also came with confusion — and no details of just what version of a bill he believes could pass the Senate one day after GOP leadership pulled a measure sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy that would have overhauled the U.S. health care system.

“With one Yes vote in hospital & very positive signs from Alaska and two others (McCain is out), we have the HCare Vote, but not for Friday!” Trump said.

The senator Trump referred to as a “yes” vote who was in the hospital was an apparent reference to Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran.

But a spokesman for the Mississippi Republican said Cochran was not in the hospital, rather he was recovering in his home state from what was described as “a urological issue.”

“The Senator expects to resume his regular work schedule soon,” according to a statement to WAPT-TV in Jackson.

Trump’s tweet appeared to indicate Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska showed “very positive signs” toward support of a health care bill, but it was unclear what version that would be.

Murkowski had previously voted down a measure in July that intended to repeal and replace parts of the health care law. She did not reveal this week how she would have voted for the Graham-Cassidy measure before leadership decided Tuesday not to vote on that bill this week.

Trump also did not reveal who the “two others” were that appeared to be coming around. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said publicly they would not support the Graham-Cassidy measure. Other senators, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, had reservations about the bill but did not specify which way they would vote.

Trump did make one thing certain — Sen. John McCain, whose thumbs down vote in July sank that version of a repeal and replace bill – would not be on board.

“McCain is out,” Trump tweeted.

The president also took the opportunity to once again criticize the Senate’s 60-vote threshold despite the chamber not requiring that number of votes if Republicans passed a bill that met the reconciliation deadline by Friday.

“We will have the votes for Healthcare but not for the reconciliation deadline of Friday, after which we need 60. Get rid of filibuster rule!” Trump tweeted.

— Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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