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President Donald Trump made a last-ditch bid to salvage a central campaign pledge, deploying a mix of threats and flattery as he told Republican senators to pass health care reform before their summer break.
With his credibility on the line, Trump today told a group of 49 Republican senators assembled at the White House that they must try again to repeal and replace Obamacare and not leave Washington until they do so.
"My message today is very simple," Trump told the group of stony-faced lawmakers, many of whom face significant pressure from voters back home to oppose Trump's unpopular plan to overhaul his predecessor's signature health care legislation.
"We have to stay here, we shouldn't leave town, we have to hammer this out and not leave town."
For seven years, Republicans have promised to gut the policy -- which has extended health care coverage to millions of Americans -- saying it is unaffordable and unsustainable.
Failure to do so -- despite Republicans controlling the White House and both houses on Congress -- would drive a stake through Trump's claim to be the only one savvy enough to get things done in Washington.
As senators filed into the State Dining Room and found paper folders marked with their names, there were a few smiles, but most were grim-faced.
They laughed as Trump joked about being ready and waiting to sign the bill.
"Believe me, I'm sitting in that office, I have pen in hand," said the real estate mogul-turned-president.
But the mood became more solemn when Trump insinuated that those opposing the measure might face a White House- backed primary opponent and potentially lose their jobs.
Addressing Dean Heller, a vocal opponent of the bill who was sitting near him, Trump remarked, "He wants to remain a senator, doesn't he?"
Trump struck a more angry tone when he described Obamacare's failings, breaking with normal decorum and point- blank accusing president Barack Obama of lying.
"Obamacare was a big lie -- You can keep your doctor, lie. You can keep your plan, lie. It was a lie, directly from the president," Trump said.
"You can keep your plan, 28 times he said it. 28 times. And it was a lie and he knew it was."
The latest Republican plan for repealing Obama's signature health reforms would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured by 2026, according to a forecast from the non- partisan Congressional Budget Office.