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Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch says Congress is too divided to work out anything on heath care and should drop the effort to repeal Obamacare now and focus on overhauling the tax code.
The Utah Republican told Reuters that he will give President Donald Trump that message even as the president continues to push Republicans to take on the health care law.
"There's just too much animosity, and we're too divided on health care," Hatch told Reuters.
Trump over the weekend urged his own party's senators to keep up the fight against Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, even after the Senate failed in three separate attempts to change the law last week.
"Don't give up Republican senators, the world is watching: Repeal & Replace ... ," Trump tweeted.
Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care and the tax code, said he still wants to pursue a Republican plan to replace Obamacare but that there's no consensus way to move forward at least now.
"I think we ought to acknowledge that we can come back to health care afterwards but we need to move ahead on tax reform," Hatch told Reuters. Hatch and Sen. Mike Lee both supported a plan dubbed the "skinny repeal" that would have erased fines for individuals who hadn't purchased health care and a mandate for companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance key components of Obamacare but the bill failed after three Republican senators and all Democrats and independents opposed it.
Hatch said that despite Trump's insistence that Republicans just let Obamacare fail mainly by not funding subsidies for health care companies Congress is going to have to follow through on its promises to the providers.
"I think we're going to have to do that," Hatch said, according to Reuters.
Hatch laughed when asked who was going to inform the president that he wasn't going to get his way with passing a health care law anytime soon.
"I'm going to be the one who does that," Reuters quoted Hatch as saying, noting that the senator said he, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders, would carry the message to the White House.