Trump makes last-ditch effort to pressure Republicans on health care bill

In his final pitch to senators to move forward with health care legislation, President Trump fired off a Tuesday morning tweetstorm challenging GOP lawmakers to “step up to the plate” to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

“ObamaCare is torturing the American People,” Trump tweeted. “The Democrats have fooled the people long enough. Repeal or Repeal & Replace! I have pen in hand.”

Later Tuesday morning, Trump added, “This will be a very interesting day for HealthCare. The Dems are obstructionists but the Republicans can have a great victory for the people!”

But as Tuesday’s motion to proceed approaches, senators from both sides of the aisle still don’t know what’s in the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could bring to the table either a 2015 clean repeal of the Affordable Care Act or a repeal-and-replace bill.

Republican leadership must secure at least 50 votes in Tuesday’s procedural vote to open the floor for debate and discussion on the mystery legislation and continue their efforts to dismantle Obamacare.

Only Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has vowed to vote against the motion to proceed regardless of the bill McConnell brings to the floor. But if McConnell introduces a clean repeal bill, then Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., will likely join her as defectors, effectively killing the legislation. Several GOP senators have expressed frustration with their lack of knowledge of what’s in the bill, even hours before the vote.

President Trump (Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: Carolyn Kaster/AP, Mark Wilson/Getty Image, @realDonaldTrump via Twitter)
President Trump (Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: Carolyn Kaster/AP, Mark Wilson/Getty Image, @realDonaldTrump via Twitter)

McConnell has pushed senators to vote for the motion to proceed to open the floor for debate and start work on the bill, telling senators that they could simply vote against the final piece of legislation if they find they oppose the measure.

Trump also applauded the return of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., whose recent brain cancer diagnosis brought concerns about whether he could return to the Senate in time to vote on the health care legislation. McCain could be a key vote in helping Republicans open the floor for debate on the bill.

“So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave – American hero! Thank you John,” Trump tweeted. McCain, a prisoner of war who endured torture for five years during the Vietnam War, was mocked by Trump (“He’s a hero because he was captured …”) in 2015. On Tuesday morning, just minutes before welcoming the Arizona Republican back to Washington, the president had tweeted that Obamacare was “torturing” the American people.

Trump, who has grown increasingly frustrated with Republicans’ failure to pass the long-promised legislation, chided GOP lawmakers for failing to do enough to end the “Obamacare nightmare” during a Monday statement on health care.

“The question for every senator, Democrat or Republican, is whether they will side with Obamacare’s architects, which have been so destructive to our country, or with its forgotten victims,” Trump said. “Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare.”