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Pence: ‘Congress wasn’t ready’ to repeal Obamacare

CHARLESTON, WVa. — Vice President Mike Pence doubled down on the Trump administration’s health care message Saturday, even reading one of President Donald Trump’s tweets from the podium during an event about small business.

“The American people want Obamacare gone, and as the President said today, don’t worry, America,” Pence told a crowd of a few hundred gathered at a construction supply company outside of the state capital. “He just tweeted this morning. Obamacare is going to continue to explode. And when Republicans and Democrats finally decide to come together and repeal and replace Obamacare, we’ll be ready to get the job done.”

Pence promised Trump would continue fighting Obamacare until the “nightmare” is repealed. He reverted back to vintage, campaign-trail Pence, reading off a list of promises that President Barack Obama made about health care, such as those covered by the program being able to keep their doctors and lowering costs of health insurance — promises he says were not kept.

Pence’s visit to West Virginia comes on the heels of a stunning defeat of the Republican alternative to Obamacare, dubbed the American Health Care Act, in the House. The vice president canceled a previously scheduled trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, on Friday to help with the whip effort.

Pence joked Saturday that he “could have used a WWE fighter up on the Hill yesterday,” a nod to the professional wrestling company owned by the family of Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, who introduced Pence to the crowd.

The vice president conceded in the speech that “Congress wasn’t ready” to repeal the bill and acknowledged that a “handful” of Republicans were to blame as well for the failure.

Tax reform is next on the administration’s list of issues, he said, specifically promising that the administration would lower the corporate tax code to 15% to bolster American businesses.

Pence also made a direct appeal to West Virginia’s senators, Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore-Capito, to support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, saying that even though Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, is threatening to filibuster the nomination, the Senate would confirm Gorsuch “one way or the other.”

Senate rules say 60 senators must vote to break a filibuster, meaning eight Democrats would have to join the 52 Republicans unless the GOP changes the rules on Supreme Court nominations through a majority vote. Some in the party have vowed to invoke that so-called “nuclear option,” which would then require only a simple majority to approve a Supreme Court nominations going forward.