President Donald Trump shot off a quick tweet on Friday morning that could have serious policy ramifications for the Republican fight to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” Trump tweeted.
After leadership shelved a planned vote on Senate legislation earlier this week, moderate and conservative sides of the Senate GOP conference have been trying to reach an agreement on how to move forward. The impasse leaves doubts on whether anything on the healthcare front will be done before the month-long August recess.
Trump and other GOP figures appear to be floating the “repeal-first” method in earnest. Sen. Ben Sasse ,during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” minutes before Trump’s tweet, suggested the idea and reiterated his support for it after Trump appeared to endorse the plan.
“Glad you agree, Mr Pres. If no agreement next [week], 2 steps: 1. Repeal 1st; then 2. Spend August full-time on replace,” Sasse tweeted.
Sen. Rand Paul also threw his support behind the strategy in a tweet Friday morning.
“I have spoken to @realDonaldTrump & Senate leadership about this and agree. Let’s keep our word to repeal then work on replacing right away,” the Kentucky senator said.
It’s unclear whether a larger swath of the Senate Republican conference would be on board with the idea.
Axios’ Caitlin Owens reported that three GOP aides said a repeal and then replace strategy would be dead on arrival. One said that the strategy would get “15 votes,” and another said its chances are “zero.”
Incidentally, the strategy to repeal and replace later was an original plan of GOP leadership — until Trump got involved.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others wanted to pass a bill that set a deadline for repealing Obamacare a few years down the road, allowing Republicans ample time to put together a replacement strategy. But senators like Paul urged Trump to shift the party away from that plan.
“I just spoke to @realDonaldTrump and he fully supports my plan to replace Obamacare the same day we repeal it. The time to act is now,” Paul tweeted on January 6.
Trump also has repeatedly said he wanted a “simultaneous” repeal and replace instead of the bill.
“We’re going to be submitting, as soon as he is approved, we’ll almost simultaneously — shortly thereafter — have a plan,” Trump said at a press conference on January 11. “It will be repeal and replace. It will be simultaneously.”