President Donald Trump said in a string of Monday night tweets that Republicans won't be voting on a new health care plan until after the 2020 elections.
"The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare," Trump tweeted. "In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House."
Asked about the tweets on Tuesday, he told reporters at the White House, “I think we’re going to have a great health care package," without offering specifics about a GOP plan or when it would be unveiled. On the timing, Trump said he'd be "showing you at the appropriate time."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday that Trump's tweets came after he'd told the president that the Senate would not act on comprehensive health care reform while Democrats still held the House majority.
"I made it clear to him we were not going to be doing that in the Senate. He did say, as he later tweeted, he accepted that and that he would be developing a plan that he would take to the American people during the 2020 campaign and suggested that that would be what he would be advocating in a second term if there were a republican Congress," McConnell said. "So we don't have a misunderstanding on that."
The comments come as the Trump administration has abruptly shifted its focus back to health care over the past 10 days, beginning with Trump directing the Department of Justice to support a full dismantling of the Affordable Care Act on constitutional grounds. The Justice Department intervened in a federal case on behalf of a Texas judge who ruled the law is unconstitutional because of the new Republican tax law.
Democratic leaders on Tuesday slammed the administration’s latest effort to to roll back President Barack Obama's signature health care law.
"President Trump confirmed he will hold Americans hostage through the 2020 election on health care," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a press conference outside the Supreme Court.
"They have no health care plan," Schumer said. “It’s the same old song they've been singing. They’re for repeal, they have no replace.”
“Don't let President Trump fool you,” he added. “They are not the party of health care. They are the party that wants to end health care.”
“The potential consequences of this politically motivated move can’t be overstated,” Schumer said, pointing to what he said would be higher premiums, higher prescription drug prices and growing costs for women and seniors.
“The cruel list goes on and on,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., followed Schumer, saying, “We’re here to condemn what the president did.”
The Trump administration, she added, does “not believe in public policy that affects the good health of the American people.”
The House is scheduled to vote Wednesdayon a resolution that would condemn the Trump administration's "legal campaign to take away Americans' health care."
After Pelosi and Schumer spoke, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at the White House that Trump "wants to work with Congress” on health care, but that his priorities on a proposal to be voted on in the next Congress would include protecting preexisting conditions and lowering costs.
Democrats, she said, “want a total government takeover of healthcare.”
Trump's latest move on health care had appeared to catch Republicans off guard.
Earlier Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told reporters that the Department of Justice had "erred in not defending the law" and that she hoped the courts would uphold the Affordable Care Act.
"What would be the worst of all worlds would be to have a gap that would leave millions of Americans without insurance, that would cut the Medicaid expansion program, and hurt our rural hospitals and other medical providers. So a gap is the worst of all worlds," she said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for his part, has said the White House would be the big player in the latest health care battle, while Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said last week his committee did not have plans to move forward with health care legislation.
After making the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act central to campaigning over the past decade, Republicans were unable to do such when they had control of the White House, Senate and House during the first two years of Trump's presidency.
With health care polling as a top issue for voters in the 2018 midterms, Democrats were able to win control of the House by flipping 40 GOP-controlled seats.