Rand Paul went on TV to talk about the Obamacare repeal, and Donald Trump wasn't pleased

The gulf between moderate Senate Republicans and conservative Senate Republicans proved to be unbridgeable

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 19, 2017 8:57AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Donald Trump's attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare has failed, and he's not happy at a few Republicans for opposing him.

One of those on Trump's bad side is Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who went on TV to talk about the bill, which incensed Trump. Per The New York Times:

President Trump was fed up with the grind of health care legislation, and at a dinner with Republican senators on Monday at the White House, he let them know it. He told the lawmakers how annoyed he was with one Republican who was not there, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who had gone on television over the weekend to oppose a Senate health care bill that once held the promise of victory for Mr. Trump.

It is one thing to vote no, Mr. Trump told the group, according to one of the guests. It is another, the president said, to go on all of the Sunday shows and complain about it.

In the end, the problem boiled down to the fact that among Senate Republicans, it was impossible to bring both moderates and hard-line conservatives on board.

One major dividing point was Medicaid, according to the Times. While some Republicans wanted to cut the program by hundreds of billions of dollars, others wanted to maintain the expansion that had been possible thanks to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. While the moderate Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio took the lead in opposing excessive Medicaid cuts, even senators generally deemed more conservative, like Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, expressed concern about how such cuts could impact their constituents.

While Moran and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah would eventually come out against the bill, thereby dooming its chances for passage, they weren't alone among Republicans for feeling that way. Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas believed that the bill needed to be more conservative, while Paul of Kentucky made it clear that he would only vote for a full repeal of Obamacare. By contrast, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine opposed it from a more moderate perspective, while Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada had pragmatic reservations.

This doesn't mean that every Republican realizes the bill is dead. Many House Republicans are still holding out hope that they can find a way to repeal it, according to a report by Politico. As House Speaker Paul Ryan put it at a news conference, "We’re hopeful that the Senate can take the pause it needs to take and move forward on this so we can get something done. We are proud of the bill that we passed, but as you well know, the legislative process, for it to work, the House has to pass a bill — and we’ve done that. The Senate’s got to pass a bill for us to even move the process forward."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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