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August 21, 2017

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Trump: Not ‘that far off’ from passing health overhaul

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said he doesn't think congressional Republicans are "that far off" on passing a health overhaul to replace "the dead carcass of Obamacare" and believes his majority party is "going to get there."

Trump's optimism runs counter to the public opposition of five Republican senators so far to the Senate GOP plan that would scuttle much of former President Barack Obama's health law. Unless those holdouts can be swayed, their numbers are more than enough to torpedo the measure developed in private by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and deliver a bitter defeat for the president.

McConnell has said he's willing to make changes to win support, and in the week ahead, plenty of back-room bargaining is expected as he tries pushing a final package through the Senate.

"We've a very good plan," Trump said in an interview broadcast Sunday. "We have a few people that are I think, I could say modestly, they're not standing on the rooftops and screaming. They want to get some points. I think they'll get some points."

The president said he thinks Republicans in the Senate are doing enough to push through the bill. "I don't think they're that far off. Famous last words, right? But I think they're going to get there," Trump told "Fox and Friends."

In addition to the five senators who have announced their outright opposition, several other GOP senators, both conservatives and moderates, have yet to commit to the new overhaul.

The Senate bill resembles legislation the House approved last month that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said would mean 23 million additional uninsured people within a decade and that recent polling shows is viewed favorably by only around 1 in 4 Americans.

"Health care is a very, very tough thing to get," Trump said. "But I think we're going to get it. We don't have too much of a choice because the alternative is the dead carcass of Obamacare."

Besides the five who have announced their outright opposition, several other GOP senators — both conservatives and moderates — have declined to commit to the new overhaul.

With unanimous opposition from Democrats, McConnell can afford to lose just two of the 52 GOP senators and still prevail on the bill.

Trump bemoaned the lack of help from Democrats on health care.

"It would be so great if the Democrats and Republicans could get together, wrap their arms around it and come up with something that everybody's happy with," the president said. "It's so easy. But we won't get one Democrat vote, not one. And if it were the greatest bill ever proposed in mankind, we wouldn't get a vote and that's a terrible thing. Their theme is resist."

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