So far, Senate Republicans have been unable to deliver on their promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act—and President Donald Trump said in no uncertain terms on Monday that it’s time for that to change.
“There’s been enough talk and no action,” Trump said as he stood in front of families that the White House says have been hurt by the healthcare law. “Now is the time for action.”
Trump made his remarks one day before senators plan to hold a crucial procedural vote that would let the chamber begin debate on a bill to repeal the ACA. It’s still unclear, though, which of several measures senators will actually be voting on.
In addition, neither the Better Care Reconciliation Act nor a repeal-and-delay measure, the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, has so far gained enough support from GOP senators to reach the 50-vote threshold needed to pass.
But Republicans got a morale boost—and possibly a critical extra vote—with the news that Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, will return to the Senate Tuesday.
“Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including healthcare reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea,” his office said.
Senate GOP leaders are pressing ahead hoping that when push comes to shove, enough of their Republican colleagues will vote on the motion to proceed and then hash out their differences through the amendment process.
Trump’s tough talk on Monday aimed to put pressure on GOP lawmakers to take that leap of faith.
“Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare,” he said.
He also claimed the Senate was "very close" to the votes it needs to pass an ACA replacement bill, adding that the effort has been hindered because the GOP has received "zero help" from Democrats.
But David Durenberger, a former Republican senator, argued in an op-ed published by USA Today on Monday that it would be irresponsible for senators to allow a bill to move forward without more information ahead of time about what’s in it and what its effects would be.
“Take it from me: A no vote on the motion to proceed this week is the only one that will be defensible in the years to come,” he wrote.
Watch Trump's full speech: