Trump vowed a speedy repeal of his predecessor's signature health care law countless times during the campaign, promising to replace it with "something better" that would lower costs, wouldn't cut Medicaid or take away anyone's insurance. But Short maintained that Trump continues to believe that repeal-only legislation should also be considered. And it's likely to further complicate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's task as he struggles to bridge the divide between GOP moderates and conservatives as senators leave Washington for the Fourth of July break without having voted on a health care bill as planned.
McConnell says he intends to proceed with GOP legislation being negotiated during the week-long recess.
"It's distressing to see so many Republicans who've lied about their commitment to repeal", Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said in a conference call on Friday. "If the replacement part is too hard for Republicans to get together, then let's go back and take care of the first step of repeal".
"That's an option", Short emphasized.
President Donald Trump's suggestion came in an early-morning tweet, which said, "If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!"
Cruz has said he cannot vote for the GOP bill in its current form, along with at least eight other Republicans, but his plan could win support by some GOP senators including Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed a vote on the bill Tuesday because of opposition from conservatives and moderates.
He added: "It's not easy making America great again, is it?"
The idea also would leave unresolved the quandary lawmakers are struggling with now, about how to replace the ACA's system of online insurance markets, tax subsidies and an expanded Medicaid with something that could get enough Republican votes to pass Congress. House Republicans barely passed their version of a replacement bill in May, and the task is proving even tougher in the Senate, where McConnell has nearly no margin for error.
The money would instead be used to bolster their proposed health care subsidies for lower-income people.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said negotiations over the Senate bill were focusing on ways to address the issue of Medicaid coverage so that "nobody falls through the cracks", combating the opioid crisis, as well as giving families more choice in selecting their insurance plan.
"Everyone around the table is interested in getting to yes - is interested in getting an outcome", he said. Both he and Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska recommended for "maximum repeal" first and then wants to have a conversation about "real replacement".
"I don't think we're getting anywhere with the bill we have".
"We are going to stick with that path" McConnell said in response to a question about the president's tweet, according to a report by ABC. "Therefore, we respectfully request that you consider truncating, if not completely forgoing, the scheduled August state work period, allowing us more time to complete our work".