Trump Says Repeal and Replace Is Not Dead, Unless GOP Are 'Quitters'

Image: President Donald J. Trump speaks about anti-gang activity at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood, Suffolk County, New York, July 28, 2017.
President Donald J. Trump speaks about anti-gang activity at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood, Suffolk County, New York, July 28, 2017.Justin Lane / EPA

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By Phil McCausland

After a series of GOP failures to pass any health care legislation this week, President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare was not dead — "unless the Republican Senators are total quitters."

Earlier in the day Trump used Twitter to declare that Republicans "look like fools" a day after they failed to pass a "skinny" health care plan, which he followed with threats to insurance companies and lawmakers.

"If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon,” he said in a Saturday morning tweetstorm.

The Trump administration already cancelled $5 million in ads that advertised the upcoming enrollment season, and the president is now threatening to withhold federal payments that help reduce insurance premiums — particularly for low-income people — and keep companies in the market.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer claimed that Trump was putting his thumb on the scale and toying with the lives of millions.

"If the President refuses to make the cost sharing reduction payments, every expert agrees that premiums will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans," Schumer said in a statement. "The president ought to stop playing politics with people's lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting Presidential.”

Related: What's Going to Happen to Obamacare?

Trump also used Twitter on Saturday to blast the Senate rules that require 60 votes to overcome a legislative filibuster after Senate Republicans failed to pass a “skinny” version of its health care plan.

Senate rules state that three-fifths of the Senate must agree to end the debate over a piece of legislation and move to a vote, which is known as invoking cloture. A group of 61 senators from both parties sent a letter to Senate leaders in April that stated their opposition to eliminating the legislative filibuster.

Republicans had avoided a filibuster in the first place by attempting to pass health care through budget reconciliation, which limits their actions to only impacting costs or taxes. Budget reconciliation only requires 51 votes and doesn’t provide an opportunity for a filibuster — but the tactic also greatly hampered the GOP’s ability to change the law.

The president declared on Saturday that the Senate must get rid of the rule because "It is killing the R Party, allows 8 Dems to control country."

He added in a later tweet that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must "go to 51 Votes NOW and WIN. IT’S TIME!"

McConnell has previously dismissed such demands from the president, who said in a May 2 tweet that the country needed to “either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%” or the country would need to undergo “a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”

Trump said on Twitter Saturday that Democrats were "laughing at R's" and would dismantle the filibuster if they "ever got the chance."

Later Saturday, Trump also took aim at China over what he said was that country’s inaction on North Korea. North Korea on Friday conducted its second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. It has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006.

"I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk," Trump said in two tweets Saturday evening.

"We will no longer allow this to continue," Trump said in the tweets. "China could easily solve this problem!"

Trump's criticism of China came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a statement called Russia and China "the principal economic enablers of North Korea's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development program" after the ICBM test.

Tillerson said in Friday’s statement that Russia and China "bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability."