Trump calls Rand Paul a “negative force” on Republican Obamacare repeal efforts

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and other lawmakers head to the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 13, 2017, for a meeting on the revised Republican health care bill which has been under attack from within the party. Paul has been a key opponent of the current bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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President Trump criticized Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday morning after the senator previously indicated that he will not be supporting the latest health care reform bill.

“Rand Paul is a friend of mine but he is such a negative force when it comes to fixing healthcare. Graham-Cassidy Bill is GREAT! Ends Ocare!” Trump tweeted.

“I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!” Trump continued.

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The president has been enthusiastic about Graham-Cassidy and other recent GOP efforts aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act, a primary campaign promise made by the president. But Paul calls Graham-Cassidy “Obamacare Lite” and says he will be voting no. The Kentucky senator has consistently opposed legislation he believes does not fully repeal Obamacare.

“There’s a big groundswell of people pushing for this,” Paul explained to reporters on Monday. “Two weeks ago, I’d have said zero [chance it’ll pass], but now I’m worried.” Paul said the bill “does not look, smell or even sound like repeal.”

Paul explained his problems with the bill in an op-ed on Monday for Fox News. He believes the bill leaves Obamacare’s taxes and regulations in place while also failing to honor Republican’s promise of a full repeal.

Many Republicans have condemned Paul for obstructing what they believe to be the GOP’s last chance to repeal Obamacare. Even Susan Collins (R-Maine), the centrist senator who opposed earlier GOP efforts to abolish or alter the ACA, says she is open to Graham-Cassidy. Sen. John McCain, whose vote single-handedly killed the last reform bill in July, says he’s more favorable to the most recent plan. Conservative senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) haven’t said definitively whether they will support or oppose the bill, with Lee showing more openness on this legislation that prior efforts.

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This altered dynamic from past Republican health care reform efforts would make Paul’s vote even more crucial. With a 52-48 majority, adding in a potential tie breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence, the GOP cannot afford to lose another vote due to Paul’s insistence on opposing Graham-Cassidy.

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