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Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2017 @ 8:50 AM
A day after Republican leaders unexpectedly delayed action on a Senate health care bill, President Donald Trump pressed GOP Senators to get on board with the legislative effort, arguing that it's time to move on from the Obama health law.
"Obamacare is dying, it's essentially dead," the President said in a photo op at the White House.
"It's been a headache for everybody, it's been a nightmare for many," the President added, as he made clear his desire for the GOP to reach an agreement that can get 50 votes in the Senate.
The original plan had been to vote this week on the Republican bill; now GOP leaders are simply hoping to come up with some revisions by the end of the week.
In his remarks, Mr. Trump sounded optimistic notes about getting Republicans to back a health care bill, saying several times that he had a good meeting on Tuesday with GOP Senators.
"We're working very hard, we've given ourselves a little more time to make it perfect," the President said.
But in the halls of Congress, there was no sense that the GOP was on the verge of a health care breakthrough, as Republicans staked out different points of view on what should change.
In a letter to the President, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) set out four different changes to the legislation, again expressing his opposition to a new regime of tax credits that would be used to help people pay for health insurance.
Paul also frowned on a late change in the bill, which would say that if you go more than nine weeks without health insurance, then insurance companies could force you to wait 6 months before letting you buy an insurance plan.
Paul said that appears to be nothing more than a "Republican version of the individual mandate," the Obama Administration plan that forced people to buy health insurance, under the threat of a tax penalty if they did not.
Republicans are expected to go home tomorrow. Congress is not in session next week. Lawmakers would return to Washington the week of July 10.
"Essentially, it's a repeal and replace," Mr. Trump said of the GOP plan, though the GOP bill falls far short of Republican promises to end Obamacare, and start over on health care policy.
As for Democrats, they remain on the outside looking in; Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said he's ready for bipartisan negotiations.
"Let's start over," Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor, as he argued Republicans should back off of $701 billion in tax cuts and $772 billion in spending reductions on Medicaid in the GOP plan.
In the hallways, GOP Senators remained optimistic about the chances of a deal, despite strong differences between moderates and conservatives. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) had one of the more memorable quotes.