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Ryan, Trump warn GOP risks losing control of House if healthcare bill fails

By Allen Cone
1/2
Ryan, Trump warn GOP risks losing control of House if healthcare bill fails
House Speaker Paul Ryan appears at a news conference Tuesday after Republicans met with President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill to rally support for the party's healthcare bill. He said he thinks Republicans will lose seats in the 2018 midterm election if Obamacare is not repealed and replaced. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

March 21 (UPI) -- Two days before a scheduled vote on an Obamacare replacement plan, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan warned that Republicans could lose control of Congress if they don't approve it.

The president went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to try to win over enough votes in the House to pass the GOP healthcare bill, called the American Health Care Act, and send it to the Senate.

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Trump met with members of his party behind closed doors.

"I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don't get this done," Trump told them, an unidentified source told CNN.

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The president told how supporters one day earlier had come out see him in Louisville, Ky.

"We won't have these crowds if we don't get this done," Trump said.

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Ryan, in a news conference after the meeting, said "yes, absolutely" when asked if he agreed with Trump's assessment of the 2018 midterm elections.

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"Everybody running for the Congress and the House, everybody running for the Senate, and the president himself, said to the American people, 'You give us this chance, this responsibility, this opportunity, with a Republican president, with a Republican Senate, a Republican House, and we will repeal and replace Obamacare,'" Ryan said.

He added: "The president was really clear, he laid it on the lines for everybody: We made a promise, now is the time to keep that promise, and we need to keep our promise and the people will reward us.

"If we don't keep our promise, it will be very hard to manage this," he said.

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Ryan said that Trump "came here and knocked the ball out of the park, he knocked the cover off the ball, in explaining to our members how it's important to unify, how it's important to work together, how we are advancing our principles and we are doing what we told the American people we would do."

Republicans described Trump as energized.

"Trump was first rate in every way," said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma. "He was truly spectacular. This is part of the job that he enjoys and excels at -- closing the deal."

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Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina said: "He was charming. He was funny. He really did a great job, I think, in letting us know we're in this together. He's counting on us to vote for this bill."

Several Republican members of Congress have been critical of the bill, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who called it "Obamacare lite."

In an effort to win over conservative Republicans, the leadership announced several amendments on Monday night.

They agreed to allow states to require Medicaid recipients to show proof of work and let the states choose a Medicaid block grant over the cap system. Also, the Obamacare taxes for those who don't get insurance would phase out this year instead of 2018.

To please moderates, Medicaid allotments for older and disabled beneficiaries would increase faster than inflation. Also, the bill will allow the Senate to craft more generous tax credits for people age 50-64.

But the changes might not be enough to win over enough Republicans.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus announced Monday night after a meeting that while they would not be taking an official stance against the bill, there were enough "no" votes among their group for the bill not to pass.

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The chairman of the caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, said his main objection is that the GOP bill does not lower premiums for most Americans.

The House cannot have more than 21 defections if all Democrats decline to approve the plan.

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