White House: Trump to decide soon on ending health payments
WASHINGTON — The White House is insisting that the Senate resume efforts to repeal and replace the nation’s health care law, signaling that President Donald Trump stands ready to end required payments to insurers this week to let “Obamacare implode” and force congressional action.
“The president will not accept those who said it’s, quote, ‘Time to move on,'” White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said.
Those were the words used by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., after the stunning early Friday morning defeat of the GOP bill to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. McConnell is already moving to other business, having scheduled Senate consideration later today on a judicial nomination.
Conway said Trump was deciding whether to act on his threat to end cost-sharing reduction payments, which are aimed at trimming out-of-pocket costs for lower-income people. “He’s going to make that decision this week, and that’s a decision that only he can make,” Conway said.
For seven years, Republicans have promised that once they took power, they would scrap Obama’s overhaul and pass a replacement. But that effort crashed most recently in the Senate Friday.
Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, where no Democrats voted for the GOP bill and three Republicans defected in the final vote Friday. One of the GOP defectors, Sen. John McCain, has since returned to Arizona for treatment for brain cancer.
“Don’t give up Republican senators, the World is watching: Repeal & Replace,” Trump said in a tweet.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, when asked Sunday if no other legislative business should be taken up until the Senate acts again on health care, responded “yes.”
While the House has begun a five-week recess, the Senate is scheduled to work two more weeks before a summer break. McConnell has said the unfinished business includes addressing a backlog of executive and judicial nominations, coming ahead of a busy agenda in September that involves passing a defense spending bill and raising the government’s borrowing limit.
“In the White House’s view, they can’t move on in the Senate,” Mulvaney said, referring to health legislation. “They need to stay, they need to work, they need to pass something.”