- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 29, 2017

President Trump said Saturday that Republican senators look like “fools” for refusing to change Senate rules that would allow legislation such to pass with a simple majority, and suggested that he’s looking at ending health-care subsidies for members of Congress.

“If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!” the president tweeted. “After seven years of ‘talking’ Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare!”

The president appeared to be referring to a part of the 2010 health care law that shifted members of Congress and many staffers out of the normal health-benefits plan for federal employees and into the new Obamacare insurance exchanges. The Office of Personnel Management decided that the employer contribution portion of premiums could be provided through the exchange in the District.

Some conservative groups have been calling for that policy to be revoked.

“To unite congressional Republicans, President Donald Trump should take action to end the congressional exemption from ObamaCare,” said Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots. “It is apparent that since members of Congress, their families and staff do not have to live under the law they passed for every other American, they lack the incentive to take the action they were elected to take.”

She added in a statement, “Ending Congress’s special exemption from ObamaCare will motivate Republicans to finally keep their promise — if not for principle, at least to improve their own insurance predicament.”

On the heels of a White House-backed healthcare bill failing in the Senate and Mr. Trump forcing out his chief of staff, the president took to Twitter also to express frustration at GOP lawmakers and to challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to play political hardball with Senate rules.

“Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don’t go to a 51 vote majority NOW,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “They look like fools and are just wasting time…The very outdated filibuster rule must go. Budget reconciliation is killing R’s in Senate. Mitch M, go to 51 Votes NOW and WIN. IT’S TIME!”

The Senate rejected a bill to repeal Obamacare early Friday when three Republicans — John McCain of Arizona, Susan E. Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — joined all of the chamber’s Democrats in voting against it. Republicans couldn’t even muster 50 votes for the measure.

Hours later, Mr. Trump accepted the resignation of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, a move that had been building for months amid West Wing infighting and the president’s growing displeasure with what he viewed as weakness by Mr. Priebus in managing the staff.

The president said Saturday that Democrats are mocking Republican lawmakers for their ineptness.

“If the Senate Democrats ever got the chance, they would switch to a 51 majority vote in first minute,” Mr. Trump said. “They are laughing at R’s. MAKE CHANGE! ….Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW! It is killing the R Party, allows 8 Dems to control country. 200 Bills sit in Senate. A JOKE! …8 Dems totally control the U.S. Senate. Many great Republican bills will never pass, like Kate’s Law and complete Healthcare. Get smart!”

Mr. Trump again called on Senate Republicans on Saturday evening to make another effort at repealing and replacing Obamacare.

“Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!” the president said.

Senior Democrats swiftly interpreted Mr. Trump’s comments about insurance “bailouts” as a threat to cut off critical “cost-sharing reductions” for insurers who pick up low-income Obamacare customers’ costs.

Plans must pay whether or not they’re reimbursed by the government, so insurers would likely jack up their rates to make up their losses if Mr. Trump yanked the payments.

House Republicans secured a court ruling against President Obama for making the payments without congressional approval, so Mr. Trump could simply drop a pending appeal.

“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. The president ought to stop playing politics with people’s lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting presidential,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

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