Politics

Trump Warns GOP Against Rejecting Health Care Bill

| by Michael Howard

President Donald Trump visited Capitol Hill on March 21 and sent a message to House Republicans who have threatened to vote against his health care proposal, telling them that doing so may cost them their seats in 2018.

"I'm gonna come after you," Trump reportedly told Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, the bill's most vocal critic, according to multiple sources, Politico reports.

The threat -- which sources indicated may have been made in jest – came after Meadows and Trump failed to come to an agreement during Meadows' visit to the president's residence in Mar-a-Lago over the weekend of March 17.

During the meeting with lawmakers on March 21, Trump said the time to repeal Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, is now, and that failure to do so could have serious repercussions.

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"I'm asking for your vote on Thursday [March 23]," Trump said, according to sources who attended the meeting. "Many of you came in on the pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare. I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don't get this done."

According to Trump, the meeting went well and the bill is likely to pass.

"We're going to have a real winner," he said on his way out. "It was a great meeting. They're terrific people. They want a tremendous health care plan. That's what we have, and there are going to be adjustments to it. But I think we'll get the votes."

Republican Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina told CNN he thinks Trump's efforts were successful, saying: "He was charming He was funny. He really did a great job, I think, in letting us know we're in this together. He's counting on us to vote for this bill."

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But certain hardline members of the Freedom Caucus still have misgivings.

"I think that what’s in the bill will drive the train for myself and I think many of the other Freedom [Caucus] members as well," Republican Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina said, adding that he wasn't necessarily swayed by Trump's latest sales pitch.

Fellow Freedom Caucus member Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee expressed a similar sentiment, indicating that the bill needs to be amended before he lends his support.

The House is set to vote on the proposal on March 23. A defeat for the bill could put other aspects of the president's agenda in jeopardy, as it would suggest a failure on Trump's part to unite the party.

"This is a leading indicator about whether we're going to have a functioning and workable majority," Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga of Michigan said, the Washington Examiner notes.

Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas said he plans to vote for the bill and cautioned his colleagues against wasting the opportunity to get rid of Obama's signature piece of legislation.

"Every Republican ran on repealing Obamacare, and a vast majority of us got behind Trump for president," he said, according to The Root. "I don't want to go home and say I voted against Trump in repealing Obamacare because that's what I've been trying to do since 2010."

While the most vocal opponents of the bill belong to the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, there is also opposition from moderate Republicans. These lawmakers are disturbed by the Congressional Budget Office's prediction that 24 million fewer Americans would have health insurance by 2026 under the proposed plan, CNN notes.

Sources: Politico, CNN, Washington Examiner, The Root / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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