Mr. Trump’s latest weekend Twitter fusillade came the morning after Mr. McCain surprised the president and his top aides by abruptly announcing that he could not “in good conscience” support the health care proposal by Mr. Graham and Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, saying it was a partisan plan whose costs and impacts on the health care of millions of Americans were unknown.
The move by Mr. McCain, whose “no” vote against an earlier iteration of a health care repeal bill killed that effort in July, dealt yet another setback to Mr. Trump’s effort to fulfill his promise to do away with Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, had already come out in opposition to his party’s last-ditch health care effort, and Senate leaders can afford to lose only three of their members in a chamber that is divided 52 to 48.
Mr. Trump, speaking at a rally in Alabama on Friday night, recalled Mr. McCain’s earlier defection with dismay, imitating the Arizona senator’s thumbs-down gesture to indicate his opposition on the Senate floor, and saying it was “terrible, honestly, terrible” when he cast the deciding “no” vote.
“That was a totally unexpected thing,” Trump said, to boos from the Huntsville crowd.
The president had embraced the legislation in recent days, making telephone calls to wavering senators and dispatching Vice President Mike Pence to Capitol Hill to try to build support for its passage. Mr. McCain’s announcement that he would not vote for it came just hours after the president had warned in a Friday post on Twitter that any Republican who opposed the measure “will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare.’ ”
On Saturday, Mr. Trump appeared to be nurturing hopes that the legislative effort could be kept alive. He expressed hope that Mr. Paul would rethink his opposition to the Graham-Cassidy measure, without explaining why the Kentucky senator, who had complained that the bill left the Affordable Care Act’s essential structure intact, might do so.
He also indicated that Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who had wavered publicly about the measure, would support it.
Ms. Murkowski was one of three Republican senators who voted against the repeal proposal in July, and she has come under an intense spotlight yet again as Mr. Trump and Republican leaders push for passage of the Graham-Cassidy bill. But while Mr. Trump hopes she will support the bill, the governor of Alaska, Bill Walker, an independent, opposes it and has said he has communicated his concerns to Ms. Murkowski.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Murkowski, Karina Petersen, said early Friday evening that the senator was continuing to study the Graham-Cassidy bill and its projected effects.
“Senator Murkowski is still focused on how the bill will impact Alaska, specifically,” Ms. Petersen said. “She’s continuing to gather data and is looking at the details of the bill to determine what’s best for her state.”
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