Trump recruits ‘victims of Obamacare’ in latest push to replace law

President applies greater pressure on senate Republicans to repeal Affordable Care Act

US president Donald Trump talks to children of alleged “victims of Obamacare” at the White House. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images

US president Donald Trump talks to children of alleged “victims of Obamacare” at the White House. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images

 

US president Donald Trump urged senate Republicans to get behind a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, as senate majority leader Mitch McConnell prepares to hold a vote on a motion to proceed on the healthcare bill as early as Tuesday.

Surrounded by people described by the White House as “victims of Obamacare”, Mr Trump in a press conference at the White House said that “any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America you are fine with the Democrat nightmare”.

Describing Obamacare as a “nightmare” that has wreaked “havoc on the lives of innocent, hard-working Americans”, Mr Trump urged senate Republicans to support a Bill to repeal and replace Mr Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

“This is their chance to keep their promise. Over and over again they said repeal and replace, repeal and replace ... They can now prove their promise,” he said.

“There has been enough talk and no action. Now is the time for action. We are here to solve problems for the people. Obamacare has broken our healthcare system … Now it is up to us to get great healthcare for the American people.”

Republican tensions

The healthcare debacle, which has seen the Republican party fail to come up with a united healthcare policy, has also revealed tensions between Republicans in Congress and the White House, following private criticism from some senators that Mr Trump failed to engage sufficiently with the Bill.

In a tweet on Monday, Mr Trump wrote: “Republicans have a last chance to do the right thing on Repeal & Replace after years of talking & campaigning on it.” It follows a previous tweet that also warned of “repercussions” should senate republicans fail to back the Bill. “If Republicans don’t Repeal and Replace the disastrous ObamaCare, the repercussions will be far greater than any of them understand!” he wrote.

The senate’s top Republican, Mitch Mc Connell, is expected to hold a procedural vote on the healthcare Bill as early as Tuesday, despite continuing divisions within the party about how to replace Obamacare. One option under consideration is to vote on a “repeal-only” Bill, which would delay a decision on an Obamacare replacement plan for two years.

As well as criticising senate Republicans for failing to present a plan on healthcare, Mr Trump appeared to disparage attorney general Jeff Sessions in a tweet yesterday, as he urged the “beleaguered” attorney general to investigate Hillary Clinton.

“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered AG, looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” Mr Trump wrote as part of a series of early-morning tweets.

Second public criticism

It marks his second public criticism of the man he appointed as the country’s top justice official in less than a week. In an interview with the New York Times last week he said he would not have hired Mr Sessions if he had known he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr Trump said, calling the decision “very unfair to the president”.

Mr Sessions stepped aside from all Russian matters earlier this year following disclosures that he failed to disclose meetings with the Russian ambassador. His recusal means that the Russian investigation is being managed by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

Rudy Guiliani, the former mayor of New York and a Trump ally, said on Monday that he believed Mr Sessions was right to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. He dismissed reports that Mr Trump was considering appointing him as attorney general in place of Mr Sessions.