President Trump on Thursday morning repeated the claim that a hospitalized Republican senator is the only thing standing in the way of repealing the Affordable Care Act before Friday, the deadline for passing legislation with only a simple majority.
No such senator exists.
“We have the votes, but reconciliation is a disaster,” Trump told Fox & Friends in an interview that aired Thursday morning. “But as you know, it ends on Friday. So we don’t have enough time, because we have one senator who’s a ‘yes’ vote, a great person, but he’s in the hospital.”
Trump went on: “And he’s a ‘yes’ vote. So we can’t do it by Friday. So we have the votes. We will do it some time at the beginning of the year, but prior to the election in November.”
Trump unveiled this excuse Wednesday morning on Twitter and told reporters a few hours later that he was talking about Mississippi senator Thad Cochran. But Cochran, whose office said he had a medical procedure earlier this week, isn’t in the hospital. The 79-year-old confirmed that in a tweet.
So why is Trump concocting stories about Cochran? Because it allows him to concoct an even more ridiculous story: Trump continues to insist that the GOP has the votes to pass the Graham-Cassidy health-care proposal, but he needs a way to explain why it’s not even voting on the bill. So, poof, he invents an ailing senator who simply can’t make it to Washington to vote.
But there are two problems with Trump’s approach. First, Cochran isn’t going along with the ruse. And second, members of his own party are calling bullshit on him. As South Dakota senator John Thune said on CNN Thursday morning, “If we had the votes, we’d be voting right now.”