WASHINGTON — The White House stepped up demands Sunday for revived congressional efforts on health care and suggested senators cancel their entire summer break, if needed, to pass legislation.
Aides said President Trump is prepared in the coming days to end required payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act as part of a bid to let “Obamacare implode” and force the Senate to act.
It was all part of a weekend flurry of Trump tweets and other statements insisting the seven-year GOP quest to repeal former President Obama’s signature legislative achievement was not over.
“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 early Friday morning defeat of the GOP proposal.
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, and that’s when McConnell said it was time to focus on other policy matters.
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.
“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.”
Trump warned over the…