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Schumer calls for bipartisan approach to Senate health bill

Senator Charles Schumer speaks on Wednesday, July 5,

Senator Charles Schumer speaks on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 in Valley Stream. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer called Wednesday for Republicans to work with Democrats to improve Obamacare instead of trying to repeal or replace the federal health care legislation.

“Look, Obamacare has its problems, but it’s also done some good. Keep the good and improve the bad. Don’t just throw out the whole thing,” the Democratic Senate leader said Wednesday in a News 12 interview.

Republicans late last month delayed a vote on their Senate health bill as they try to cobble together GOP support.

President Donald Trump has said Obamacare “is melting down” and should be replaced.

Schumer warned the Republican bill would lead to cuts in Medicaid that could force cuts to nursing homes.

“No one says Obamacre’s perfect. Work in a bipartisan way, Democrats and Republicans, to improve it. Don’t just repeal it,” Schumer said.

While Schumer said he’s getting some backing from senators for a bipartisan compromise, he still has to persuade Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

“I think we’re getting closer to it. A whole bunch of colleagues in the Senate have said they want to do it. So if the majority leader . . . would change his mind and do it, we could get some good things,” he said.

McConnell spokesman David Popp, in an email, said “We’re encouraged to see Sen. Schumer finally acknowledge that Obamacare has failed to live up to the promises they made when they passed it. It’s discouraging, however, to see how strenuously Democrats are fighting any effort to bring real change.”

Schumer said he didn’t press policy issues with Trump confidantes at a Southampton party Saturday night for Washington Post senior associate editor Lally Weymouth. Politico reported that the event was attended by first daughter Ivanka Trump, her husband and presidential adviser Jared Kushner, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and billionaire donors George Soros and Charles Koch.

“It was a social thing. It was mainly dancing. My wife was there, my daughters were there. We talked about occasional things, but nothing really substantive,” Schumer said.

Schumer said he sat across from Kushner and spoke about “our families’ histories.”

In the News12 interview, Schumer also believed he and McConnell would reverse cuts proposed in Trump’s budget to the Environmental Protection Agency. He also again urged the MTA and Amtrak to spend $432 million to repair superstorm Sandy-damaged East River Tunnels leading into and out of Penn Station.

“It’s just outrageous that the money is just sitting there,” he said.

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