The White House on Thursday would not dispel mounting criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill that the president called senators to secure a replacement for Obamacare.
“Look, the administration has been working hand in hand on pushing repeal and replace of Obamacare,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said in reply to a question from Newsmax about this criticism.
Sanders went on to praise the so-called “skinny repeal” before the Senate, which was defeated Thursday night by a vote of 51-49. The bill would have removed the mandates in Obamacare as well as the tax on medical devices.
“We actually like the term ‘freedom bill’ a lot better because we think it addresses what this bill actually is,” said Sanders. “It removes a lot of those mandates that allow people to have the type of freedom, [and] states have the freedom that they want. And that was one of the big priorities for this administration. We're happy about that progress.”
Jon Decker of Fox Radio then pressed the president’s top spokeswoman to answer whether the president is actually “picking up the phone” and “calling those seven or eight Republican senators, making the case for them that this may be their last best hope for repealing and replacing Obamacare.”
“And if he is, what’s his message to those particular senators?” asked Decker.
“The same one he’s been making all along: Let’s get the job done,” she replied. “Let’s replace a terrible healthcare system with a better one. And he’s going to be engaged, and I’ll keep you posted on any specifics and people that he talks to.”
Sanders’ characterization of Trump’s efforts to woo lawmakers for the replacement legislation is in sharp contrast to the reports of how Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama worked the phones of behalf of major health legislation during their time in the White House. In 2003, Bush’s calls to House members were considered critical to flipping a 218 to 216 deficit vote to a 220-to-215 victory for the landmark $400 billion Medicare Prescription Drug Modernization Act.
In March of 2010, Obama's persuasion of then-Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and other pro-life Democrats that the Affordable Care Act would not permit tax dollars to be used for abortions (although the final lacked the appropriate language) was regarded as the decisive step toward securing its passage in the House by a vote of 219-212.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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