Trump urges Senate Republicans to move ahead with health care reform


WASHINGTON, July 24 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump pleaded with U.S. Senate Republicans on Monday to "do the right thing" on health care and allow debate to begin on a measure to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday on whether to begin debating a health care overhaul, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not specified which version of the bill the senators will vote on.

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"To every member of the Senate I say this: The American people have waited long enough. There's been enough talk, and no action. Now is the time for action," Trump said on Monday at the White House.

Standing on a stage with families who he said had been hurt by President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, popularly known as Obamacare, Trump said, "Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare."

"There is still time to do the right thing," he said.

Republicans have been under heavy political pressure to make good on their long-standing campaign promises to gut the 2010 health law, which they view as a government intrusion in the healthcare market.

But the party is deeply divided between moderates concerned the Senate bill would eliminate insurance for millions of low-income Americans and conservatives who want to see even deeper cuts to the Obamacare legislation.

Senate Republicans have been unable to reach consensus on a health care approach, with McConnell failing to secure enough votes for either a repeal and replacement of Obamacare or a straight repeal.

Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the 100-member Senate. With Democrats united in opposition, McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes.

A Senate Republican aide on Monday said the Senate will vote this week on whether to begin debate on the health care bill passed in May by the House of Representatives. If that procedural vote succeeds, the House bill would then be open for amendment on the Senate floor.

If the Senate approves a motion to begin debating a health care bill, McConnell will determine which proposal has the most Republican support and move forward to a vote, Republicans said.