President Donald Trump claimed that Senate Republicans could pass a health care reform bill by the end of September if a senator’s hospitalization weren’t preventing him from casting the deciding vote.
"We have one senator who’s a ‘yes’ vote, a great person, but he’s in the hospital," Trump told Fox & Friends in a Sept. 27 interview. "And he’s a ‘yes’ vote. So we can’t do it by Friday. So we have the votes."
Trump repeated similar claims throughout the day.
"With one Yes vote in hospital & very positive signs from Alaska and two others (McCain is out), we have the HCare Vote, but not for Friday!" Trump tweeted Sept. 27.
With one Yes vote in hospital & very positive signs from Alaska and two others (McCain is out), we have the HCare Vote, but not for Friday!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2017
We decided to look more closely at whether Senate Republicans in fact have the needed votes, and if a hospitalized senator, unable to cast his "yes" vote, is preventing its passage.
It doesn’t appear so.
Under congressional rules, Republicans had until September 30 to pass the bill with a simple majority. Republican hold 52 seats in the Senate, meaning they could afford to lose two senators, and still pass the legislation, with the vice president casting the tie-breaking vote. No Democrats were expected to support the legislation.
As of Sept. 25, however, three Senate Republicans — Maine Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Arizona Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — were firm "no" votes. Still others expressed skepticism about the overhaul.
So at most, even with all senators in attendance, Republicans had 49 votes in the Senate, short of the simple majority it needed for the bill to clear the chamber.
Trump’s repeated claims about a hospitalized senator were an apparent reference to Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
For his part, Cochran tweeted yesterday to clarify that he was ill but not in the hospital.
"Thanks for the well-wishes. I'm not hospitalized, but am recuperating at home in Mississippi and look forward to returning to work soon," Cochran tweeted.
Thanks for the well-wishes. I'm not hospitalized, but am recuperating at home in Mississippi and look forward to returning to work soon.— Senator Thad Cochran (@SenThadCochran) September 27, 2017
Cochran’s office told the USA Today the senator was recovering from what they referred to as treatment for a "urological issue."
It’s unclear whether Cochran’s health concerns would prevent him from returning to cast a vote on the health care reform. But what’s clear is that even with his vote, Senate Republicans are still short of the majority.
Trump said Senate Republicans would have enough votes to pass health care reform but for a hospitalized senator who’s unable to cast the deciding vote.
At most, Senate Republicans have 49 "yes" votes — that’s short of the majority they need to pass the latest health care overhaul. This shortfall would not be overcome even with a "yes" vote from Cochran, who is not hospitalized, but rather recuperating at home after receiving medical treatment.
We rate this False.