Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

Trump says GOP has health care votes, but it doesn't

WASHINGTON — Guess what? Turns out Republicans have the votes to push health care legislation through the Senate, but they've been flummoxed because one supportive senator is in the hospital.

That was President Donald Trump's view of where things stand Wednesday on Capitol Hill. And it's not true.

Trump made the remarks a day after Senate GOP leaders discarded their drive to repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. They lacked the votes to succeed, a not-so-minor snag that hadn't changed.

The three GOP senators whose opposition sunk the Republican measure all remained against it, aides confirmed. That was Arizona's John McCain, Kentucky's Rand Paul and Maine's Susan Collins.

On Twitter, Trump cited "very positive signs" from GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and "two others." He added: "we have the HCare Vote, but not for Friday!"

Murkowski never took a position on the bill, which was written quickly with little perusal by senators. She criticized the "lousy process" and said "substance matters."

No top Republicans were talking about returning to the matter until they get the 50 votes they'd need to succeed, a tie Vice President Mike Pence would break.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the chamber's No. 3 GOP leader, said if the bill's sponsors "get to where they can get 50 votes or something, my guess is we'll be coming back to it. That's a big if."

"That's probably a question for a little bit down the road," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., a sponsor of the last failed bill, when asked when the push would be revisited. "We have to reassess and regroup."

Trump saw things differently.

"We have the votes for health care. We have one senator that's in the hospital. He can't vote because he's in the hospital," he told reporters.

White House aides later said the hospitalized lawmaker Trump was talking about was Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who turns 80 in December.

That came as news to Cochran.

"Thanks for the well-wishes," he tweeted. "I'm not hospitalized, but am recuperating at home in Mississippi and look forward to returning to work soon."

Cochran's aides said he was being treated for a urological issue and could return to Washington if a vote was planned.

Trump later said the senator was "home recovering."

The withdrawn bill, which Cassidy sponsored with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would collapse much of Obama's law into block grants states would receive to shape their own programs.

Trump offered two pathways to success that seem far-fetched and mutually exclusive.

First, he said Republicans would have the votes to succeed early next year. But starting this Sunday, Republicans controlling the Senate 52-48 and will no longer be able to win with just 50 votes. They'd need 60 votes, an impossibility thanks to unbroken Democratic opposition to repealing one of their party's proudest achievements.

"They could try it again and again because they're going to fail again and again," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a brief interview.

Congress could theoretically vote to renew the health care bill's 50-vote protection next year. But GOP leaders are talking about first using that protection for their current top priority, tax cuts, not health care. And it's unclear Republicans are eager to revisit the issue in an election year.

Trump also said he'd talk to Democrats "and I will see if I can get a health care plan that is even better."

But there is no clear compromise between a GOP that's made scrapping Obama's law a guiding light for seven years and Democrats steadfast on protecting it.

The No. 2 Senate Democratic leader, Richard Durbin of Illinois, said the White House has yet to approach Democrats with a health care compromise and said he didn't see what one might look like.

"Block grants to the states with inadequate funding?" Durbin said of the abandoned bill. "Cutbacks in Medicaid? Reductions in health insurance? Those are not good starting points for a bipartisan discussion."

Trump said he was working on executive orders letting people buy health insurance across state lines and making it easier for them to join association health plans. Such plans let groups of people purchase insurance together for lower prices than individuals.

Democrats are wary of such ideas, worried they might expose customers with lesser coverage.

Comments
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18