President Donald Trump lashed out at “so-called Republicans” Tuesday for deserting the party’s latest attempt to repeal the Obama health care law as Senate leaders tried to decide whether to even hold a roll call that was virtually certain to fail.
Trump didn’t name any of the four GOP senators who’ve said they’re against the doomed measure. But Vice President Mike Pence singled out one of them: Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who announced her opposition a day earlier, essentially assuring the proposal’s defeat.
“We are certainly disappointed that Sen. Collins has chosen to vote against the Graham-Cassidy bill,” Pence told radio station WGAN-AM in Portland. The measure is sponsored by GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy.
“At some point there will be a repeal and replace,” Trump said when reporters asked if he wanted the Senate to vote on the measure this week. “But we’ll see whether or not that point is now or will be shortly thereafter. But we are disappointed in certain so-called Republicans.”
Trump’s attack was the latest instance in which he’s derided fellow Republicans during this year’s up-and-mostly-down GOP drive to deliver on their pledge to demolish President Barack Obama’s health care law. He lambasted dissident House Republicans before that chamber approved its version of the bill in May and has blasted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for allowing the measure to collapse in the Senate.
Because of their narrow majority and unified Democratic opposition, Republicans can lose just two GOP votes and still push the legislation through the Senate. A vote or a decision by McConnell, R-Ky., to forego a roll call must come this week because procedural protections against a bill-killing filibuster by Democrats expire Sunday.
McConnell must choose whether to satisfy conservatives insistent on fighting to the bitter end against a law they despise or other Republicans who see little point in yet another defeat. GOP senators planned to discuss their next steps at a Tuesday lunch.
“There are people who have needs they feel politically,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters. He added, “I think we know the outcome, so you all can show up in the balcony if you wish. Maybe we ought to do it to entertain you.”
The GOP bill would transform much of “Obamacare’s” spending into grants that states could spend on health programs with few constraints. McConnell contrasted that with a proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,…