Despite Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) being one of a handful of Republican senators standing in the way of the GOP’s latest iteration of the Obamacare repeal bill, President Donald Trump is not angry.
In fact, Trump has actually been meeting with Paul in one-on-one meetings about the bill, a privilege not given to other Republican senators, who are reportedly angered by their exclusion.
According to Politico, the day before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pulled the GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill, Trump invited Paul to a personal meeting at the White House for some one-on-one time. Meanwhile, other Republicans were forced to meet with the president in groups.
While Paul is a “no” vote for the Obamacare replacement bill, Paul, along with his fellow Republicans resisting the bill, have said in the past that they are willing to negotiate. Paul has taken a hard stance against the current version of the GOP bill, which he believes will hasten the Affordable Care Act’s crash, or as Paul calls it, the “Obamacare death spiral.”
Regardless, he and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) both expressed confidence that an agreement could be reached.
Politico said that Trump views obtaining Paul’s vote as a challenge.
“He is very persuasive,” Paul told Politico of Trump.
However, Paul seems to be the more persuasive of the two. According to Politico, both Paul, and now Trump, seem more focused on tearing Obamacare down than replacing it.
Politico reported Thursday that Trump’s office of legislative affairs’ Paul Teller told conservative groups that Trump will only sign repeal only legislation. This frustrates McConnell’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with GOP-lead legislation simultaneously, but it does accomplish a long sought after goal of Paul’s.
Politico said that McConnell has given up Paul as a “lost cause,” according to an unnamed aide. Additionally, Trump administration aides believe it’s a waste of time to call Paul. However, those close to Paul say that the president and the Kentucky senator have a “great relationship.”
“The president and Rand Paul have a great relationship. They have both been very public in their supporting of gutting Obamacare, repealing Obamacare,” said Brian Darling, a former counsel and spokesman for Paul who is still close to the senator. Trump “would be happy if the bill could pass and move a little more to Rand Paul’s views.”
“Sen. Paul considers President Trump a friend and is always open to providing constructive feedback,” said Paul spokesman, Sergio Gor.
This relationship is helping Paul and Trump see eye to eye on how to approach dealing with Obamacare. On June 29, Politico reported that Paul called for a repeal of the “bad crap in Obamacare that Democrats will never repeal,” and worry about a bi-partisan construction of a replacement bill for Obamacare down the road.
A day later, Trump tweeted out his desires that fell in line with Paul’s, and earned a retweet from the Kentucky senator.
If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
This shift has frustrated Republican staffers working on the Obamacare replacement bill, reported Politico, but Paul’s colleagues are said to understand his goals.
“Rand really believes the things he stands for. He’s very principled about it,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Politico asked Rubio if Paul has been constructive to the ongoing Obamacare repeal and replace process, despite what Politico calls Paul’s “multitude of positions,” to which Rubio responded “absolutely.”