Trump says Congress should repeal Obamacare now, replace it later

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a signing ceremony for the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 in the East Room of the White House June 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. 

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Trump said Friday that if the Senate can't pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, then it should repeal the health care law first and pass a replacement at a later date.

The statement from Mr. Trump posted on Twitter was a reversal from what he promised Americans a number of times since the election.

In his first post-election interview in November with CBS's "60 Minutes," Mr. Trump was asked if there would be a period between repealing Obamacare and replacing it when millions of people could lose their insurance coverage.

"No, we're going to do it simultaneously. It'll be just fine," Mr. Trump told "60 Minutes'" Lesley Stahl. "We're not going to have, like, a two-day period and we're not going to have a two-year period where there's nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. And we'll know. And it'll be great health care for much less money. So it'll be better health care, much better, for less money. Not a bad combination."

Senate Republicans have been wrestling with how to move forward with their health care measure as moderates and conservatives are at odds over the provisions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, decided to postpone a vote on the legislation until after the July 4 recess and has been aiming to have a revised version crafted by Friday so that the Congressional Budget Office can score it over the break.

But if Senate Republicans are struggling to garner votes for a repeal and replace bill, a stand-alone repeal could be even harder to get through the upper chamber.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, however, recommended in a letter to Mr. Trump Friday that he adopt a two-step strategy to replace Obamacare in which the Senate repeals it initially and spends August on replacing it. Lawmakers are scheduled to be on recess for the entire month of August.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, an opponent of the original version, advocated splitting the health care bill into two pieces on Thursday. 

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.