President Trump predicted Monday night that he would help push the troubled Obamacare repeal bill over the finish line this week, but said Republicans need to come together, and tried to entice them by saying nothing can get done on tax reform until Congress first passes a bill to reform healthcare.
Speaking at a rally in Kentucky, Trump said he was ready to work with Republican leaders who support the bill, but also lawmakers like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Paul opposes the bill, but Trump said he likes Paul "a lot."
"And I look forward to working with him so we can get this bill passed, in some form, so that we can pass massive tax reform, which we can't do until this happens," Trump said.
"So we gotta get this done before we can do the other," he explained. "In other words, we have to know what this is before we can do the big tax cuts. We gotta get it done for a lot of reasons, but that's one of them."
Trump's logic is backed by GOP leaders, who have said for weeks now that tax reform can't be tackled until they know what a final Obamacare repeal bill looks like.
Republicans got a break with last week's Congressional Budget Office score, which said the current repeal bill would reduce the deficit by $337 billion over 10 years. But the bill may well have to be changed to win conservative support.
Late Monday, there were signs that members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus were unlikely to support the bill. Their roughly 40-member caucus can sink the bill if they a little more than half of them vote it down, and it's not clear that group can be persuaded to support it in return for a pledge to push for tax cuts soon after.
Trump was set to meet with skeptics Tuesday morning, and told people at his Kentucky rally that he was ready to secure the votes needed.
"We're going to be working very closely with our leader Mitch McConnell to get that job done," he said. "Paul Ryan, everybody. They're going to be working very hard."
He also called Thursday's planned vote is the GOP's "long-awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare."
"What's the alternative? The alternative is what you have," he said. "What you have is nothing, the worst. It's the big lie."