Politics & Government

Rand Paul rejects Trump’s Twitter attack. ‘I won’t be bribed or bullied.’

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee member Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., questions state insurance commissioners during a hearing on the individual health insurance market for 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017.
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee member Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., questions state insurance commissioners during a hearing on the individual health insurance market for 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. AP

The last time the U.S. Senate considered a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, President Donald Trump tried to woo Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on board.

This time, it’s the stick.

“Rand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare,’” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

The tweet is the second Trump has aimed at Paul as Republicans in Washington scramble to pass the Graham-Cassidy bill, their latest attempt to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, before a Sept. 30 deadline.

Since its introduction, Paul has said he doesn’t think the bill goes far enough to repeal Obamacare because the replacement portion keeps some of the taxing and spending in the original legislation.

Trump’s tweets did not change the opinion of one of the Senate’s most ardent ideologues.

“Calling a bill that KEEPS most of Obamacare ‘repeal’ doesn’t make it true,” Paul tweeted Friday morning. “That’s what the swamp does. I won’t be bribed or bullied.”

Paul’s reasoning is much different from other senators who are considering voting against the bill. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who helped defeat the last version of the Senate’s replacement bill, doesn’t like the current version because he doesn’t like the process the Senate is using to try to pass it.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, are concerned about the effect of Medicaid cuts in the bill on their states.

The bill has not yet been analyzed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, but an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that Kentucky could lose up to $3 billion in Medicaid funding by 2026 if the bill is approved.

When he opposed earlier versions of the bill, Paul talked to Trump directly about why he opposed the bill and tried to sell him on his plan to expand health care associations.

At the time, Trump tweeted that he was sure “my friend @RandPaul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!”

He didn’t.

Paul isn’t the only Kentucky senator the president has tweeted about. In August, Trump sent several tweets criticizing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over his failure to pass a bill that would repeal and replace ObamaCare.

“Can you believe Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done,” Trump tweeted at the time. “Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare.”

McConnell, who supports the Graham-Cassidy bill, said Thursday he plans to hold a vote on the proposal next week.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics

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