President Trump delivered a stark message to Senate Republicans Tuesday after they abandoned plans to take up a heathcare bill this week, warning them they could face the wrath of voters, lose the majority, and ultimately face socialized healthcare in America if they don't pass a bill.
"He was encouraging us to figure out a way forward and kind of the cost of failure, of what it would mean not to get it done," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said as he returned to the Capitol from the White House.
Trump, Rubio said, predicted if the Republicans do not send a bill to his desk that repeals Obamacare and replaces it, "We would wind up in a situation where the markets would collapse, Republicans would be blamed for it and potentially have to fight off an effort to expand to single payer [healthcare] at some point."
Republicans met with Trump for more than an hour in meeting in which the president sat flanked by two prominent centrist holdouts, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Neither talked to reporters after returning to the Capitol in a police-escorted shuttle bus. Other GOP lawmakers described the meeting as one in which lawmakers were able to voice their objections to the bill in the presence of Trump and administration officials.
"This was the first time the various sticking points were aired in a forum like this with the president and the vice presidents, and healthcare administration officials listening and taking notes," Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said. "So I think this was a good exercise. I think, basically, every sticking point is now out there on the table and we know what parts need to move."
A growing list of GOP senators now object to the legislation in its current form, many of them opposed to the cuts in growth to the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which currently provides healthcare to able-bodied adults earning up to 400 percent of the poverty line.
Republican efforts to lure centrists by offering additional funding for states to battle opioid addiction failed to attract enough support today, contributing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision to pull the bill for now.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, announced his opposition, too.
Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, of West Virginia, who also declared she would not vote for the measure, was positive after the White House meeting but made no assurances a bill would ultimately pass the Senate.
"I think we had a pretty broad and open discussion," Capito said. "The president was very emphatic, and we'll just see where it goes from here."
Republican will try to reconstruct the bill this week and get a new price tag from the Congressional Budget Office with the goal of taking up the measure after the Senate returns on July 10.
Wicker, a supporter of the current bill, was optimistic.
"I think we can get 50 votes to yes by the end of the week," Wicker said, adding, "Well, OK, that would make me more optimistic than the majority leader."
Robert King contributed to this report