WASHINGTON (AP) — Guess what? Turns out Republicans have the votes to push health care legislation through the Senate, but they’ve been flummoxed because one supportive senator is in the hospital.
That was President Donald Trump’s view of where things stand Wednesday on Capitol Hill. And it’s not true.
Trump made the remarks a day after Senate GOP leaders discarded their drive to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. They lacked the votes to succeed, a not-so-minor snag that hadn’t changed.
The three GOP senators whose opposition sunk the Republican measure all remained against it, aides confirmed. That was Arizona’s John McCain, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Maine’s Susan Collins.
On Twitter, Trump cited “very positive signs” from GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and “two others.” He added: “we have the HCare Vote, but not for Friday!”
Murkowski never took a position on the bill, which was written quickly with little perusal by senators. She criticized the “lousy process” and said “substance matters.”
No top Republicans were talking about returning to the matter until they get the 50 votes they’d need to succeed, a tie Vice President Mike Pence would break.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the chamber’s No. 3 GOP leader, said if the bill’s sponsors “get to where they can get 50 votes or something, my guess is we’ll be coming back to it. That’s a big if.”
“That’s probably a question for a little bit down the road,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., a sponsor of the last failed bill, when asked when the push would be revisited. “We have to reassess and regroup.”
Trump saw things differently.
“We have the votes for health care. We have one senator that’s in the hospital. He can’t vote because he’s in the hospital,” he told reporters.
White House aides later said the hospitalized lawmaker Trump was talking about was Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who turns 80 in December.
That came as news to Cochran.
“Thanks for the well-wishes,” he tweeted. “I’m not hospitalized, but am recuperating at home in Mississippi and look forward to returning to work soon.”
Cochran’s aides said he was being treated for a urological issue and could return to Washington if a vote was planned.
Trump later said the senator was “home recovering.”
The withdrawn bill, which Cassidy sponsored with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would collapse much of Obama’s law into block grants states would receive to shape their own programs.
Trump offered two pathways to success that seem far-fetched and mutually…