President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that Republicans have the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare — and that the party would be well on its way to doing so if it weren’t for a sick senator and Senate rules.
“We have the votes on Graham-Cassidy,” Trump said, adding that he need to wait “a few months” before seeking a vote.
But there’s no evidence Trump has these votes, with or without Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who is home recovering from an illness in Mississippi.
Here’s how the numbers break down:
The GOP has 52 senators, and 50 “yes” votes could pass the bill this month under Senate rules. Thanks to Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to cast the tie-breaking vote, should all 48 Democratic senators vote “no,” the bill could lose two Republican votes and still pass with the vice president casting the decisive vote in favor.
But the Graham-Cassidy legislation had lost at least three Republican votes. By Wednesday, there was no indication that those three senators who were in opposition — Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Arizona Sen. John McCain and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — had been swayed.
Collins’ announcement on Monday afternoon was seen as the final nail in the coffin for the bill — at least for now. Senate leaders abandoned plans to bring the measure to a vote after Collins went public.
Paul, who called Graham-Cassidy “Obamacare Lite” in a tweet Friday, said Wednesday he has been working with the White House in an effort to let consumers to buy health care across state lines but gave no indication he had changed his mind on the bill in its current form.
“I think Rand will be there for us,” Trump said later on Wednesday. “He’s a good guy, and he wants what’s good also for the party, so I think Rand will be there.”
Paul was clear on Wednesday morning that he’s open to negotiating, but that the current Graham-Cassidy proposal wasn’t enough to win his vote.
“Nobody really could get their you-know-what together to actually figure out how you get people to come together to get the votes,” Paul said on Wednesday on MSNBC’S “Morning Joe” of Graham-Cassidy. “It needs more of that.”
On Friday, McCain said he could not “in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska decline to throw her support to the GOP bill. She released a statement noting that she appreciated her colleagues’ efforts but still did not have a clear picture of how the plan would have affected Alaskans.
Trump tweeted Wednesday there were “good signs” out of Alaska on health care but those signs weren’t immediately clear.
When asked Wednesday if Republicans could advance a health care bill next year, she said, “You know what, I think it needs to be bipartisan.”