LOUISVILLE, Ky. — President Trump is deploying an outside and inside strategy to fulfill his campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, seeking support beyond Washington before making an in-person pitch on Capitol Hill.
Trump rallied supporters Monday night in Louisville, Kentucky, alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., after meetings and phone calls in Washington aimed at steadying the troubled legislation designed to erase President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. He planned to court House Republicans on Tuesday.
“We want a very big tax cut, but cannot do that until we keep our promise to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump told the crowd of thousands in Louisville. “This is our long-awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare. It’s a long-awaited chance. We’re going to do it,” he said.
At the White House on Monday, the president met with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an architect of Obama’s health-care law and the brother of Obama’s White House chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Trump resumed his campaign-style events at the start of a big week for his young presidency. Confirmation hearings for his nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, opened before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House is expected to vote Thursday on the GOP-backed health-care bill.
Trump’s Louisville rally, his third since his inauguration, followed a daylong congressional hearing in which FBI Director James Comey acknowledged for the first time that the agency was investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials seeking to influence the 2016 campaign.
Trump’s aides and congressional Republicans spent the weekend trying to woo conservatives and moderate House members who have questioned the health-care plan. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the House’s No. 3 Republican and the leader responsible for rounding up votes, wrote Sunday to his team that the “next few days could define us for years to come.”
“There’s no such thing as ‘perfect.’ Each of us has our own ideal plan, but if we want to advance our principles and fulfill our promises, this bold approach achieves our objectives,” Scalise wrote.
Many hard-line conservatives have pushed for a more complete repeal of Obama’s law, including its requirement that policies cover a long list of services, which they say drives up premiums. They also complain that the GOP bill’s tax credits create an overly generous benefit the federal government cannot afford.
Moderate Republicans, meanwhile, have said the tax credits are too limited and would hurt low earners and older patients. They also worry the plan would leave too many people uninsured, pointing to a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analysis that estimated 24 million people would lose coverage over 10 years.
Republican leaders were working on several revisions to the bill that would be considered ahead of the floor vote.
At the rally, Trump suggested he wasn’t wedded to the current version of bill. “We’re going to negotiate. And it’s going to go to the Senate and back and forth,” he said, assuring that the “end result is going to be wonderful and it’s going to work great.”
The White House and House Republicans have agreed that the bill will be amended to let states impose work requirements on some healthy Medicaid recipients.