Trump pressures GOP senators on health bill after sending mixed messages

Health care battle
Health care battle 02:49

WASHINGTON -- President Trump invited Republican senators to the White House for lunch Wednesday -- and served up healthy portions of pressure. 

Twenty-four hours after the Obamacare replacement plan hit a dead end, he urged them to pass a health care bill before they leave Washington, D.C. He also reminded them that they -- and he -- had promised to replace Obamacare.

"I'm ready to act, I have pen in hand, believe me. I'm sitting in that office, I have pen in hand," Mr. Trump said.

He appealed to their sense of duty -- and their sense of shame.

"You know, for seven years you had an easy route. We'll repeal, we'll replace, and he's never gonna sign it. But I'm signing it," Mr. Trump said.

He even issued a veiled threat to moderate holdout Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who was seated conveniently to his right.

Sen. Dean Heller, left, and President Trump at the White House on Wednesday CBS News

"Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn't he? OK? And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they're gonna appreciate what you hopefully will do," Mr. Trump said.

But the president himself has sent mixed messages.

In the past 24 hours alone, he has promoted three different courses of action: repeal and replace, repeal alone and doing nothing.

At lunch on Wednesday, he was back to the first option, belatedly selling the replacement plan that all but died two days ago.

"You'll have forms of insurance you don't even know about right now," he said.

Republican leaders have already moved on to a fallback bill that repeals Obamacare without a replacement.

"We will look like fools if we can't deliver on that promise," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Health care latest 05:02

But on Wednesday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warned that approach would leave 17 million more Americans without coverage next year -- a number that would climb to 32 million by 2026.

Moderate Republicans already have the votes to block it.

"We promised that we would repeal and replace, we want to do that, but we want to do it the right way," said Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-West Virginia. 

The president's scolding did prompt Senate Republicans to schedule a meeting Wednesday night to try yet again to find consensus on a replacement. Mr. Trump told them they should not leave town until they do, but did not say whether he, too, would abide by that directive.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.