President Trump signaled Monday night that he will not press for a vote on a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act until after next year’s elections, apparently heeding warnings from fellow Republicans about the perils of such a fight during campaign season.
In a series of late-night tweets, Trump continued to bash President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law but said a vote on a replacement would not occur until after the elections — suggesting that he believes he would still be in the White House and that Republicans would control both chambers of Congress at that point.
“Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House,” Trump wrote. “It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America.”
Congressional Republicans were caught off guard by Trump’s rapid shift to focus on health care last week, which was set off by his abrupt decision to direct the Justice Department to intervene in a federal court case seeking to eliminate the ACA in its entirety on constitutional grounds.
Trump later showed up a Senate Republican luncheon where he declared that they should be the “party of health care” and asked for assistance in writing a new bill.
It soon became clear, however, that other Republicans had little appetite to take on an issue that benefited Democrats during last year’s midterm elections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled that he would not play a major role in authoring new health-care legislation, saying he would instead wait to see what the White House produced in consultation with leaders of the Democratic-controlled House.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), whose panel would be central to any such debate, also said last week that there was no plan to move forward.
When asked whether the two Senate committees overseeing health-care policy are planning to draft a replacement proposal for the Affordable Care Act, Grassley responded flatly: “No.”
“Obamacare is something that’s not going to be replaced unless the courts would declare it unconstitutional,” Grassley said. “You won’t know that for a long time.”
In his tweets, Trump claimed that a bill is in the works.
“The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare,” he said. “In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare.”
Despite the delay in legislative action, the Trump administration is continuing to push for the dismantling of the ACA through the courts
On Tuesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) are planning to hold an event in front of the Supreme Court to urge the Justice Department to reverse its position on the case.
Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.