Reporting by John Roberts
In the State Dining Room today President Trump gathered together all of the Republican senators who would come for a spirited sales pitch on getting rid of Obamacare.
“Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America you’re fine with Obamacare,” said Trump. “But being fine with Obamacare, it isn’t an option for another reason: it’s gone. It’s failed.”
While the vote next week is to simply repeal Obamacare and replace it later, President Trump today repeated his call to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time and that Congress should stay in Washington until it is done.
“My message today is really simple: we have to stay here. We shouldn’t leave town. We should hammer this out and get it done.”
The president also chastised senators who repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare during the Obama Administration when they knew their vote was nothing more than a political show.
“For seven years, you had an easy route. We’ll replace, we’ll replace and he’s never going to sign it. But I’m signing it. So it’s a little bit different. I’m ready to act. For seven years you promised the American people you would repeal Obamacare. People are hurting. Inaction is not an option.”
The three senators who voted to repeal Obamacare in 2015, but say they’re against it now will come in for some special White House attention—as did Senator Dean Heller of Nevada—an opponent of repeal and replace who found himself seated right next to the president at lunch.
“You didn’t go out there. This was the one we were worried about, you weren’t there. You’re going to be,” Trump joked. “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”
Heller is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election in 2018 and will likely vote to save the seat—not the president’s plan. Two of the opponents of repeal, Lisa Murkowski and Rob Portman, were just re-elected. Shelly Moore Capito isn’t up for re-election until 2020 so it’s unclear how much leverage the president will have over them.
As he seeks to woo senators on Obamacare repeal, President Trump is lashing out at reports he had a ‘secret’ second meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at last week’s G-20.
The president tweeting: “Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is “sick.” All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!”
The President talked with Putin for more than two hours in a bilateral meeting in Hamburg on July 7th. That night, at the official G20 dinner, the president spent more time with Putin one-on-one with only a Russian interpreter. The White House denied a report the two spoke for nearly an hour and would not disclose the content of the conversation.
The White House has accused the press of a double standard, pointing out that President Obama had private conversations at previous G20’s that the press never made an issue of.
On Obamacare, the White House will continue its sales pitch tonight by hosting a special meeting with senators who are having a difficult time getting to a yes.