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Trump badgers McCain on health bill, urges GOP support

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Senate candidate Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. Credit: AP / Evan Vucci

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday accused Sen. John McCain of letting his state of Arizona down by announcing Friday he would vote against the last-ditch legislation to replace Obamacare, likely dooming a bill that must be passed next week.

Senate Republicans have until Sept. 30 to pass the bill by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) because that is when their ability to approve it with a simple majority, instead of a bipartisan 60 votes, expires under a budget reconciliation rule.

But the bill is one “no” vote from failure again for the 52-member Republican caucus, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) saying he cannot support the bill, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) saying she’s leaning against it, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) undecided.

Trump said that McCain let down his home state of Arizona and his friend and sponsor of the bill Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) with his announcement Friday that he could not in “good conscience” vote for the legislation being rushed through the Senate.

McCain dramatically killed a previous version of an Obamacare bill in a vote in the middle of the night in July because the legislation did not go through committee hearings or have bipartisan support — the same objections he has to the current bill.

Trump also noted that Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has endorsed the bill, which takes much of the federal funding of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid and turns it into block grants to the states, though the amount of money will be smaller over the years.

“John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!” Trump tweeted. “McCain let his best friend L.G. down!”

Trump taunted McCain by saying he was fooled by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has embraced and endorsed McCain’s call for the Senate to return to bipartisan deliberations in a floor speech after his brain tumor was diagnosed.

“Arizona had a 116% increase in ObamaCare premiums last year, with deductibles very high. Chuck Schumer sold John McCain a bill of goods. Sad,” Trump posted.

At a political rally Friday night in Alabama, Trump called McCain’s opposition “sad” and “a horrible, horrible thing” for the Republican Party but said he would keep fighting for the bill.

“It’s a little tougher without McCain’s vote, I’ll be honest. But we’ve got some time. We’re going to go back,” he said. “You can’t quit when you have one or two votes short.”

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the bill Monday, and CNN will televise a debate between Republicans Graham and Cassidy and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who backs the current law, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the sponsor of a single-payer Medicare for All bill.

But Trump held out some hope that Paul and Murkowski still could vote yes.

“I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for the good of the Party!,” Trump tweeted. “Alaska had a 200% plus increase in premiums under ObamaCare, worst in the country. Deductibles high, people angry! Lisa M comes through.”

Trump posted his tweets while at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is spending the weekend. He is scheduled to return to Washington Sunday.

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