(CNN) – President Donald Trump hit the campaign trail Wednesday, presumably to drum up support for the endangered GOP health care plan. However, at his first stop, he failed to even mention the topic, even as the White House hints the bill will need major changes to survive.
On Wednesday, Trump hit the road, looking to salvage a GOP health care plan that may already be in jeopardy. However, at his first stop in Michigan, Trump made no mention of the top item on his legislative agenda, repealing and replacing Obamacare, instead, focusing on his economic plans. “Let us put American workers, American farmers and American dreams first once again.”
As Vice President Mike Pence sells the plan to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. White house aides are saying it’s now or never when it comes to repealing Obamacare.
Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary said, “This is the only vehicle that seeks to achieve what people on our side have been talking about since 2010. This is it.”
It’s a promise Trump made on a near daily basis as a candidate. “If we don’t repeal and replace Obamacare, we will destroy American health care forever.”
However, now that he’s president, questions linger about whether Trump can close the deal. The President’s second stop Wednesday in Tennessee, an opportunity to sell a health care repeal and replace plan that’s come under fire from all sides.
Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky said, “The leadership in the house is weak-kneed, and they are afraid to lead with freedom and capitalism.”
The criticism only growing after the non-partisan congressional budget office determined 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 under the GOP health care bill than under Obamacare.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina said, “Let Obamacare collapse, and it will. Then try to replace it in a bipartisan fashion. That’s what I would recommend he do.”
In a meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday evening, a White House adviser acknowledged the challenging path ahead. Admitting the health care bill, in its current form, can’t pass the senate and will need significant changes.
House speaker Paul Ryan says the senate is just the place to make those tweaks. “Senators aren’t helpless to the house. Once the house is done with a bill, we send it to the senate and they take it from there. So, if a senator doesn’t like a provision in this bill or this bill at all, the senator can amend the bill.”
However, the legislation’s perilous path to passage is giving some lawmakers misgivings about whether to back it at all.
Rep. Leonard Lance, of New Jersey said, “I’m leaning no, because I don’t think the current bill can pass in the Senate, John. And I want to make sure that the legislation is able to pass in both houses of Congress.”
Democrats are already seizing on the divisions among republicans. Rep. Linda Sanchez, of California said, “I’ll make this really simple. If their bill fails, it’s basically akin to saying, “We didn’t have anything better; our bill sucked. And your bill, which is pretty darn good, although there are some areas that need work, we’re gonna kill it because we’re mean spirited.”
In the meantime, Americans aren’t yet abandoning Obamacare. More than 12 million people signed up for Obamacare for 2017, about half a million less than a year ago.