WASHINGTON: Donald Trump turned up the pressure Friday in a high-stakes negotiation with recalcitrant Republicans who are threatening to torpedo the party's own healthcare plan aimed at dismantling Obamacare.
"After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!," Trump tweeted Friday morning on a critical day for his embattled young presidency.
A vote on a Republican bill to replace Barack Obama's signature health reform -- one of Trump's most repeated campaign pledges -- is scheduled for Friday. The Democrats are dead set against it and expected to vote no in bloc.
House leaders were forced to postpone a vote Thursday on the measure amid a revolt by mainly conservative Republicans, who have complicated the first major legislative test for the new president by signaling the bill would not pass without key changes.
Trump Thursday evening issued a stunning ultimatum to his party: he wants a vote Friday in the House of Representatives, and if he loses, Obamacare -- which he has called disastrous and Republicans have derided since it was enacted exactly seven years ago -- will stay in force and he will move on to other things on his agenda.
The House Freedom Caucus -- some 30 lawmakers who are heirs-apparent to the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement -- have spearheaded opposition to a bill they dub "Obamacare Lite," complaining it will only reduce, not eliminate, health coverage subsidies by replacing them with refundable tax credits.
Trump fired off another tweet Friday singling out this caucus for criticism.
"The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!" he wrote.
The Republican reform would bar the women's health organization Planned Parenthood -- the country's largest provider of abortion services -- from receiving federal funds in the form of reimbursements for the free contraception it provides for low-income patients.