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Trump, House GOP Celebrate Health-Care Win. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 4, 2017 - 17:00   ET


TAPPER: I'm turning you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

[17:00:07] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Trump's big win. President Trump scores his first legislative victory, helping to muscle an Obamacare replacement bill through the House by a razor-thin margin. But why could Republicans only muster one vote more than they needed?

Senate impossible? Tonight the debate moves to the Senate. The president says he's confident, but one Republican senator says the current bill has zero chance of passing there.

Spiking the ball. President Trump holds a hastily-arranged Rose Garden ceremony to declare victory, saying American's healthcare bills will be coming down. But it's only halftime. Republicans need to get their bill to the president's desk, and Democrats are gloating over what may happen when Republican lawmakers next face the voters.

And what's in the bill? There are still many questions about what the bill does. It was pushed through the House before the Congressional Budget Office could estimate how much it will cost and how many people may lose coverage.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Our breaking news. House Republicans and the Trump administration, they are celebrating after winning a key battle in what promises to be a tough war over healthcare by the barest of margins, one vote more than needed.

Republicans passed an amendment -- an amended bill aiming -- aimed at replacing Obamacare. It comes six weeks after a humiliating setback for Republican leaders and the White House when an earlier version was pulled for lack of support.

Hosting a White House victory gathering, President Trump vowed that Americans' healthcare bills will be coming down, saying he's confident the bill will get through the U.S. Senate.

But this celebration may be short-lived. Republican Senator Bob Corker says the House measure has zero chance of getting through the Senate unscathed. And House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi calls the bill a lose/lose situation for Republicans, warning GOP colleagues they will, quote, "glow in the dark" once constituents find out they voted for a bill which she says will cost more and, quote, "guts essential health benefits."

The bill was rushed to a vote without a score from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that the original version would insure 24 million fewer Americans than Obamacare over the next decade.

Our correspondents, specialists and guests, they all are standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.

House Republicans and the White House snatched a victory on healthcare, but Democrats warn the jaws of defeat will come back to bite them.

Let's begin our coverage on Capitol Hill. CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly is standing by.

Phil, a big win to be sure for the Republicans, for the president, but there's a very difficult and risky path ahead for Republicans.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question at all, Wolf, on the policy, on the politics, even on the procedure. No shortage of land mines that are awaiting this bill, that are awaiting Republicans when things move over to the Senate.

But for a brief moment, by the slimmest of margins, President Trump and House Republicans able to seize on a very real legislative victory.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Tonight, after weeks of false starts, road blocks and a very public legislative collapse...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 217, the nays are 213. The bill is passed, and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.

MATTINGLY: ... Republicans took the first huge step to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Today was a big day, but it is just one step in this process, an important step. We still have a lot of work to do to get this signed into law.

MATTINGLY: An 11th-hour change clearing the way for President Trump's first significant legislative victory.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a repeal and a replace of Obamacare, make no mistake about it. Make no mistake.

MATTINGLY: But with significant road blocks awaiting in the Senate, when it still leaves them exceedingly far away from signing a final bill into law, despite an, at times, tortured internal process for House Republicans that just 42 days ago was pronounced completely dead.

RYAN: I don't know what else to say other than Obamacare is the law of the land.

MATTINGLY: A calculation that now is the time to move something, anything forward. Rallied along in a closed-door meeting by the "Rocky" theme song and a motivational quote from general George Patton, sources tell CNN.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: ... Virginia. We know Obamacare has failed. So as statesmen, do we sit back and say, "I told you so"? Or do we find a solution to the problem? I think, as statesmen on both sides of the aisle, people should come forward with their ideas to solve the problem.

[17:05:00] ACOSTA: But the political ramifications both on the process and the policy threaten to be devastating. Republicans rushed the vote through before they received an updated score on how much the plan would cost or how many people it would cover, and just 17 hours after the final text of the bill was posted publicly. It was a move that drew sharp attacks from furious Democrats.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Forcing a vote without a CBO score shows that the Republicans are afraid of the facts. They're afraid of learning the full consequences of their plan to push Americans with preexisting conditions into the cold, or as my colleague from New York said, into -- off the sidewalk. If Republicans thought they were really protecting people, they wouldn't be afraid of the facts.

MATTINGLY: Attacks that will reverberate across districts in campaign ads for years to come, something Democrats not so subtly hinted at on the House floor just after the vote, singing, this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SINGING): ... hey, hey, hey, good bye!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SINGING): ... hey, hey, hey, good bye!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SINGING): ... hey, hey, hey, good bye!

ACOSTA: Yet the members themselves brushed off the concern about the process.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How do you know this is going to be right, given there's no CBO analysis to exactly say how many people will lose coverage and the impact this would have on the economy?

REP. BRIAN MAST (R), FLORIDA: I know we're doing the right thing.

RAJU: But how?

MAST: I know. ACOSTA: Even as some in their own party raised the very same

problems, Senator Lindsey Graham tweeting, quote, "A bill finalized yesterday has not been scored, amendments not allowed and three hours' final debate should be viewed with caution."

The policy itself goes a long way to accomplishing what Republicans have campaigned on for years. It puts an end to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion and fundamentally changes the program, repeals the individual mandate and tax increases, all as it gives states the opportunity to opt out of two of the law's central regulations: mandatory health benefits for insurance plans and price protections for those with pre-existing conditions. It's a fundamental transformation of a system that encapsulates one-sixth of the U.S. economy. One Republican leaders say is precisely what they were elected to do.

RYAN: Republicans are committed to keeping our promise, to lift the burden of Obamacare from the American people and put in place a better, more patient-centered system.

MATTINGLY: But Democrats insist this isn't over.

PELOSI: Some of you have said, "Well, they'll fix it in the Senate," but you have every provision of this bill tattooed on your forehead. You will glow in the dark on this one. You will glow in the dark. You will glow in the dark. So don't walk the plank.


MATTINGLY: And Wolf, just to give you a sense of where things currently stand in the Senate, obviously, President Trump said he was very confident things would pass over here, but senator Republicans making very clear, their aides saying they have been working behind the scenes to essentially rewrite almost the entirety of this bill, things like the structure of the tax credits, how they would phase out the Medicaid expansion, the funding for Planned Parenthood that's taken out, even things like money for rural hospitals.

All of these are very specific issues that matter to very specific Republican senators and also that make very clear there's a very specific, long process ahead for this bill, despite what we saw in the Rose Garden today.

BLITZER: Yes, a long process before it becomes the law of the land. Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill. Thank you.

President Trump, who personally twisted arms for the health care bill in the House, has just hosted a victory party of sorts for House Republicans. Let's go to senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Big celebrations over there.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They were taking a victory lap on the Rose Garden of the White House even though the checkered flag is nowhere in sight at this point. But in addition to assuring Republicans that this legislation will make its way through the Senate, the president also offered up some new promises that sounded as ambitious as President Obama's vow in the past that if you like your doctor, you can keep it.

The president was promising Americans that their deductibles will go down, their premiums will go down. It was a performance vintage President Trump. Here is what he had to say.


TRUMP: As far as I'm concerned, your premiums, they're going to start to come down. We will get this passed through the Senate, I feel so confident. And this is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better.

I went through two years of campaigning, and I'm telling you, no matter where I went, people were suffering so badly with the ravages of Obamacare. And I predicted it a long time ago. I said it's failing. And now it's obvious that it's failing. It's dead. It's essentially dead. I tell you what, there is a lot of talent standing behind me.

How am I doing? Am I doing OK. I'm president. Hey, I'm president? Can you believe it, right? I don't know.


ACOSTA: Now, in addition to those remarks you heard victory speech after victory speech from top Republican leaders, assuring Americans that pre-existing conditions will be covered under Trumpcare. Wolf, that is a prebuttal to the debate that is to come over on the Senate side. That is because that Congressional Budget Office score is expected over the next couple of weeks.

[17:10:15] That score, that analysis from the CBO, is expected to show that perhaps millions of Americans will lose health insurance under Trumpcare.

I asked -- I tried to ask the president during that Rose Garden event there just a little while ago, what about Americans with pre-existing conditions? He did not answer the question, but I did shout a question at the president's top official when it comes to legislative affairs, Mark Short. He did say they do believe this legislation -- perhaps not in this form, but they do believe something will get through the Senate, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks for that report.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You bet. Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: So I assume you agree, this is a big win today for Republicans?

SCHIFF: Well, I think it's probably the one and only celebration you're going to see among Republicans about this healthcare bill. because it's really nothing to celebrate for the American people.

Very shortly, I imagine, that CBO analysis is going to come out, and it's going to likely show tens of millions of Americans lose their healthcare under this plan. And the image of those Republican members celebrating that loss of coverage for millions may very well come back to haunt them.

It's deeply ironic for the same crowd that was saying that the Obama healthcare proposal wasn't adequately vetted, even though it had been vetted for months, should vote on a bill without even knowing what a neutral Congressional Budget Office analysis was.

But it is what it is. It's not going to pass the Senate in this form, and we'll have the time now, I think, to further make the case to the American people about why, if you have a pre-existing condition, you may have just lost your healthcare.

BLITZER: You know, the Democrats -- and you well remember this, President Obama as well, they repeatedly told Americans in advance of the Affordable Care Act being passed, Obamacare, they repeatedly said, remember the president saying, "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan," but that wasn't true, was it?

SCHIFF: You know, for a lot of people, it did not turn out to be the case. And I think that was an overstatement and overselling by President Obama.

Now, we might have been able to fix the Affordable Care Act and improve things so that we could keep those promises, but we were very soon in a position where the Republicans wanted to completely repeal and would not improve the Affordable Care Act. So I'm not sure President Obama ever got a chance, legislatively, to fully make that live up to those promises.

But nonetheless, the promises you're seeing now from President Trump, I think we'll see very clearly and very quickly are impossible to keep, that everyone's premiums are going to go down, that everyone is going to have coverage.

The simple reality is we're going to find out very soon that millions stand to lose their healthcare from this. And the resources that have been devoted to helping people with pre-existing conditions are going to in no way be adequate enough.

What's really driving this, Wolf, and I think this is a central point people need to understand. It's not that the GOP members simply want to cut people off from their healthcare. It's not as simple as that. There's a reason behind it, and the reason is they want the money from the healthcare changes to go into a tax cut. So they're willing to cut millions off their healthcare if they can give it back in the form of a tax cut.

And that's really what's involved here. It's why this went forward ultimately before the tax cut plan, because they needed money out of the healthcare system to pay for a tax cut. BLITZER: Just this week -- and you heard a lot of Republicans

mentioning this today, Congressman, Aetna pulled out of Virginia's individual market, citing big Obamacare losses. Medica, the only remaining carrier in every Iowa county, said it was reconsidering its involvement in the Obamacare marketplace.

So aren't choices narrowing right now for consumers? Isn't that a reality?

SCHIFF: Well, it is a reality, but it's a reality for a reason. And I think what we have seen with the Affordable Care Act over time is that states like my own state of California, for example, that wanted to make the Affordable Care Act a success, that want to expand the ranks of the insured, that want to encourage young people to enroll so that you had a good pool of people and you could keep premiums down, those states that wanted to make it a success did, and they do have competition.

States that wanted to make it a failure, where the legislatures didn't support it, the governors didn't support it, they didn't try to market it to people, they didn't try to expand the ranks of the insured, they have made it a failure.

And now you see the Trump administration, even before today, for example, refused to market the Affordable Care Act and coverage under the exchanges to young people, because they wanted the expense to go up. They wanted insurers to drop out. They wanted a case to be made for repeal of the legislation.

And that's unfortunately what we have seen, the willingness to failure. And you can hear it in the president's remarks today, where he's saying, "Oh, this is collapsing. This is collapsing."

This is a concerted effort by the administration to really drag down the system that has resulted in the lowest levels of uninsured in our history and to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

BLITZER: In the Rose Garden at that celebration just a little while ago, Congressman, President Trump did declare Obamacare, in his words, he said, Obamacare is essentially dead today. Is it?

SCHIFF: No, of course not. You know, the president also said that this will easily get through the Senate, and he's completely confident of that. He may be the only one in Washington who's completely confident of that.

No, the Affordable Care Act persists, and if they can't figure out something better, I sure hope it continues to persist. And I think they're going to find it very difficult to get the Senate Republicans in agreement with the House Republicans. They didn't obviously have much of a margin to spare here in the House.

But the bottom line is, you know, what's good for the American people. And the only reason I hope they're unsuccessful is I think this would be a dramatic and terrible step backwards that would disenfranchise millions of people from access to healthcare. BLITZER: Congressman, I want you to stand by. There's more to

discuss. I have to take a quick break. We'll resume our conversation right after this.


[17:20:53] BLITZER: Our top story: just moments ago President Trump boarded Air Force One for a trip to New York City. Earlier -- you see him walking there from Marine One over to Air Force One. You'll see him get up on those stairs and make that short flight from here in the Washington, D.C., area up to New York City.

The president and House Republicans earlier, just a little while ago, they celebrated in the Rose Garden at the White House after winning a very narrow victory on a bill aimed at repealing and replacing Obamacare.

It's a big victory indeed, but one Republican senator says the bill now has zero chance of getting through the Senate in its present form, and House Democrats say their Republican colleagues will now be viewed as radioactive by voters.

We're back with Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He's the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, Senator Lindsey Graham, he tweeted this after the House vote, and I'll put it up on the screen. He said, "I believe it may take Obamacare's collapse before the parties are willing to work together in a bipartisan manner."

Should Democrats start working with Republicans now on a bipartisan plan?

SCHIFF: Well, we certainly offered to do that, but I think what we saw after the original failure of the Republicans, when they were going to bring this bill up in the House and weren't able to get the votes, that the president initially said, "Well, make I should work with Democrats" and then ultimately decided, apparently, "No, the strategy ought to be to appeal to the Tea Party, to the farthest right of the Republican conference." That's where they hope to get the notes necessary to take up the bill.

So that was a conscious decision made by the president and by the speaker of the House to do this in a partisan way.

I think where we will likely end up is, when they're unsuccessful in doing this Republican-only, then maybe they'll come back to the table and say, "OK, how do we improve the current healthcare system, instead of just scrapping this in the name of scrapping it? How do we improve things, how to expand care?" They'll find a very receptive Democratic Party if they're willing to do that.

But if the real goal here, as I mentioned earlier, is to essentially cut off millions of people from healthcare, because they're just not interested in spending the resources to make sure people can get access, and they want to put that money in a tax cut, obviously, they're going to find zero support among Democrats.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, Congressman, you were briefed today by the FBI director, James Comey, the National Security Agency director, Admiral Mike Rogers. What can you tell us about that? Did you get any substantive new information? That briefing was behind closed doors.

SCHIFF: Yes, I think we do each time we get a briefing. We focused on, really, our three core areas, which include the intelligence community's assessment that the public was able to read in one form. We want to make sure the conclusions the intelligence community reached are supported by the underlying broad data.

We also, obviously, were very interested in the U.S. government response when we knew the Russians had hacked us, as well as the issue of whether U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign were coordinating in any way.

So those were the issues, I think, that were the predominant focus, and, you know, I think the witnesses were responsive to those questions.

We are still trying to get the approval of the FBI and the Department of Justice to giving a full briefing to our members, because there still remains information that is only held by the Gang of Eight that's pertinent to our investigation.

BLITZER: Did today's hearing -- and I know it is classified, you don't have to reveal any classified information, of course -- but did you hear or see any hard evidence the Trump campaign, Trump associates colluded with Russia?

SCHIFF: You know, I can't go into the content of the hearing. We certainly did ask about, that basket of issues affecting U.S. persons, but I can't discuss the testimony that we had.

I can tell you that I think we're working together, Democrats and Republicans on the committee, in a very neutral, non-partisan fashion. It's the way it ought to be. Their new Republican lead, Mike Conaway, and I have been really joined at the hip on this, and we are now in the process of sending out letters, inviting additional witnesses to come in, requesting additional documents, as well as moving forward and talking to counsel for Clapper, Brennan and Yates about scheduling that open hearing.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff, we'll continue this conversation down the road. Thanks very much for joining us.

SCHIFF: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to have more on the breaking news coming up. Stay with us.


[17:29:54] BLITZER: We're following important breaking news, but it's a story that is only half done. This afternoon, House Republicans pushed through a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. The final vote, 217 to 213, with 20 Republicans and all of the House Democrats voting no.

Shortly after this afternoon's vote, President Trump and House Republicans held a victory celebration in the Rose Garden over at the White House. However, the bill still faces a very, very uncertain fate in the U.S. senate.

Let's bring in our political specialist. And, Nia, the House Speaker Paul Ryan said it was clear today that a lot of republican members, they were looking to -- they were promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and he said this, how important this vote today was for them.


PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER: This bill delivers on the promises that we have made to the American people. You know, a lot of us have been waiting seven years to cast this vote. Many of us are here because we pledged to cast this very vote, to repeal and replace Obamacare, to rescue people from this collapsing law. Are we going to meet this test? Are we going to be men and women of our word? Are we going to keep the promises that we made?


BLITZER: Was this vote imperative for reassuring that republican conservative base?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Absolutely. And it was imperative, too, for letting the republican base know that this party can govern, right? If you remember Paul Ryan when the bill didn't even get to the house floor before, he said, you know, governing is hard. It's easier to sort of be in the opposition party instead of the party who -- that governs, so they learned a lot of lessons here. And Paul Ryan there, very much sounding like a coach in the locker room and urging his troops onto the battlefield. He said at some point, don't falter in this vote. And so, they did, they got - they got the 217 need. 20, of course, voted no, but Paul Ryan, before he was very disappointed, 42 days ago, and obviously very happy today.

BLITZER: They needed 216, Marc, they got 217. You've been doing some reporting. Was there ever any last minute jitters that maybe they wouldn't get to that 216, a few of those republicans would change their minds or just decide to vote against the bill?

MARC THIESSEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Some couple of things. One is, I think, this morning, it was pretty much on rocky ground. They weren't quite sure. And as -- once you see a vote scheduled in the House of Representatives, by and large, you basically have the vote. So, even though they lost 20 people, in many cases what you see happen is that those people who don't like the bill but feel like they have to do it because of party loyalty will be allowed to vote the other way. You know, in many -- we're often criticized, Wolf, here for treating politics in policy-like sports. And I do think that in many ways that's what's happening today right now, is that this vote today is being treated like a sporting event. It's one vote, and it's a vote that's really meaningless in the sense that whatever was done today is not going to be what the senate deals with or what is eventually voted on if that even happens. So, I do think that this is a victory lap in many ways by Donald Trump, President Trump, and the republicans that it is too soon.

WOLF: And spiking the ball at halftime is not necessarily a good idea, is that what you're suggesting?

THIESSEN: I don't think you're even in halftime yet.

HENDERSON: Yes, it's probably first-quarter. Yes.

THIESSEN: I mean, I think it's like the first quarter at this point.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, guys. You know, Rebecca, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare as it is called, is President Obama's signature issue, and some are suggesting that this effort to repeal and replace, at least in part, is a desire to dismantle something so important to the former President's legacy.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's certainly a considering for some republicans, Wolf. But I think it was more of a consideration when republicans first started talking about opposing Obamacare, way back in the 2009-2010 election. It was a big political issue for them. But I think because, you know, it's so beyond that because they've now won majorities in the senate, they've won the White House, they've turned a corner where now this is about delivering, as Paul Ryan said, on the promise that they have made to their base. So, it's less about opposing Obama at this point, dismantling his legacy, more about proving that they can actually deliver on what they've been talking about for six or seven years.

And this was the case that they were on (INAUDIBLE) made, actually, the newly sworn-in Congressman from Kansas who took over Mike Pompeo's seat in that special election, he wrote an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal making the political case for this legislation. And he said it was important that republicans vote for this because they needed to prove that they could do this, show some progress. Produce is what I'm saying.

HENDERSON: Yes, which was different from -- which has always looked different from what President Trump and Kevin McCarthy said today in the Rose Garden. They said this wasn't really about the party, this was about the American people, but it plainly was - it was a partisan vote, it was a necessary vote for the Republican Party. This was their reason for being over the last seven years. This was their slogan that gave them the 2010, that gave them 2014, and delivered them the White House, as Rebecca said.

[17:35:12] THIESSEN: Let me be an equal opportunity to critic here. (INAUDIBLE) congressional democrats who went out of their way to try to work with republicans to try to get this done either. So, when people look at Washington and say that they're fed up with Washington, today is a perfect example of why they're fed up with Washington.

BLITZER: Explain, just elaborate a little bit.

THIESSEN: Well, just because the fact is, again, this was very ceremonial, a lot of pomp and circumstance. It is not going to affect anybody's life right now, it is absolutely not. Congressional democrats are sitting on the sidelines watching the Republican Party implode right now because it is still imploding but not trying to fix the problems that are with Obamacare, which by the way, there are a lot of problems with Obamacare. And the fact that republicans right now are feeling the need to fulfill a campaign promise based on three words, repeal and replace, instead of saying fix and replace, you know, and I just think that that's what we saw happened today.

And look, this is going to affect people's lives, eventually, and it should be done the right way, not just because it feels good, politically.

BLITZER: Rebecca, will the senate take up this actual bill or will they simply start -- throw this bill away and come up with their own version and send that back to the house?

BERG: That's a good question because you already have republican senators who are opposed to this bill as it stands. They'll amend, what, this framework looks like right now, Wolf. And one of the big sticking points is going to be the Medicaid cuts. This is something that Senator Rob Portman has already said he opposes in its current form. This is going to be a sticking point for a number of moderate republican senators. So the likely path that this takes, if it's able to pass the senate because it's reconciliation, you only need 51 votes to get there, makes it a bit easier. But likely, the path is that they make changes and this goes to conference. That's a big question mark. Could the house ever pass - this House of Representatives pass a more moderate version of this bill.

HENDERSON: Something that's more moderate. Yes.

BLITZER: Presumably, in the next week or two, we'll get the Congressional Budget Office report estimating how many people will lose their health insurance, the first CBO report said 24 million over the next decade, and how much this will actually cost. That could have a huge impact on the senate as well.

HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, we'll see if it's deficit neutral because if it isn't deficit neutral, you're not going to be able to pass this under reconciliation. Everybody likes to talk about reconciliation. But, yes, I mean - and you'll see whether premiums are going to go up or down. And you saw President Trump today said that he thought the deductibles were going to go down, he thought the premiums were going to go down. We'll see what the CBO says. You already see republicans sort of gaming the ref in terms of the CBO was saying, "Oh, we're not sure what they say is going to be good in terms of the good word."

THIESSEN: And Mitch McConnell puts a statement out today saying that basically, you know, good to see that a first step is taken but is very careful to say that the senate consideration will be scheduled following the completion of procedural and budgetary scorekeeper reviews, something we did not see in the house. So ...


BLITZER: And we'll see if there are senate hearings on this legislation.


THIESSEN: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Something that was missing in action during the house consideration. Everybody stand by. There's a lot more. We're following all of the breaking news. We'll be right back.


[17:42:41] BLITZER: We're back with our political specialists. We're following the breaking news. Nia, let's look ahead to the U.S. Senate, that's where the legislation goes now that it passed the House of Representatives. Listen to Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, the democratic leader in the house, on the floor today.


PELOSI: Our members, our colleagues who have the mantle of being a moderate, you vote for this bill, you have walked the plank from moderate to radical, and you're walking the plank for what? A bill that will not be accepted by the United States Senate. Why are you doing this? Do you believe in what is in this bill? Some of you have said, "Well, they'll fix it in the Senate, but you have every provision of this bill tattooed on your forehead. You will glow in the dark on this one."


BLITZER: All right. Nia, she write -- did some republicans just walk the plank?

HENDERSON: Quite possibly. In the senate, there's a lot of focus on those republicans who represent districts that were won by Hillary Clinton. 14 of those 23 or so voted for this bill, so I think those are the people that are really going to be targeted by democrats. You know, I think democrats feel very giddy about this, even though Nancy Pelosi there, sort of warning her colleague there. I mean, she was really wanting to say, "Please walk the plank," instead of, "don't walk the plank."

But, you know, democrats, they still have to figure out their messaging, they have to figure out the candidates who are running in these districts. They've got to figure out if they can get their base rallied behind this and giving money to these difference candidates. So, it's not just this easy thing that's gong to be for democrats, an easy win in terms of running against republicans in these districts.

BLITZER: Marc, as you know, the republican caucus in the senate is generally more moderate than the republican caucus in the House of Representatives, but there are some distinct ideological factions in the senate as well. What are you looking at?

THIESSEN: Well, a couple of things. One is, let's see what Lisa Murkowski, the senator from Alaska, and Susan Collins, the Senator from Maine, what role they play. They were very vocal the last time around about the Affordable Care Act, and they, as you said, tend to be a little bit more to the centrist side. Let's also look and see what the likes of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz do. OK? Because they clearly have White House aspirations if not 2020. I know a lot of people say that Donald Trump won't get a challenge but I think he will.

[17:45:02] If not 2024, they're young men. So, let's see what role they play in there. And quite frankly, there are 10 democrats right now in states that Trump won, and they may have to moderate where they're at, and not be with their Democratic Party.

BLITZER: So you think some democrats in the Senate potentially could vote with the republicans?

THIESSEN: Because the senate bill is going to look a lot different than the house bill, so it might be enough for them to actually vote for it.

BERG: I mean, look at someone like Joe Manchin who supported Trump so far.

BLITZER: Of West Virginia.

BERG: Of West Virginia where Trump won by double digits, who has actually supported Donald Trump on a lot of initiatives so far including some of his key nominees for this bill.

BLITZER: Because as you know, Rebecca, there are 52 republicans in the senate, 48 democrats. If three were - if three of those republicans, whether Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, one more, if they join the democrats and all the democrats are opposed, the republicans are in trouble.

BERG: Right. So there is really no room for error on this for republicans, Wolf. And the onus now falls to Mitch McConnell. He is going to be in the spotlight now. All of the talk has been about Paul Ryan and Donald Trump and their working relationship. Now, Mitch McConnell, who is a very shrewd political operator, is going to have to be the one to thread this needle. It's not going to be easy. He has his work laid out for him.

BLITZER: We're getting new information on how democrats are pushing back right now. We'll take a quick break. That and much more right after this.


[17:50:49] BLITZER: President Trump heading to New York right after a major but incomplete victory here in Washington. The House of Representatives passed the republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare but the bill faces a very uncertain fate in the U.S. senate. We're here with our political specialist, and, Nia, I want to play for you this is an ad Tom Perriello is a democratic running for governor in Virginia just released this ad. We'll discuss.


TOM PERRIELLO, FORMER UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM VIRGINIA: Republican leaders are trying to do this to affordable health care. I'm Tom Perriello. In the Congress, I voted for Obamacare because it was wrong that a million Virginians weren't covered while insurance companies held all the power. Now, I'm running for governor because it's wrong that most Virginia incomes haven't gone up in 20 years. Together, we can stop Donald Trump, raise wages and build an economy that works for everyone, and we'll make sure this never happens in Virginia.


HENDERSON: No more ambulance being, you know, crushed in Virginia.

BLITZER: Yes. Interestingly, Tom Perriello was a congressman, he lost his bid for re-election because he voted back in 2010 for Obamacare.

HENDERSON: Yes. And he was one of - you know, something like 60 congressman and women who lost their seats in that race that Obama ended up calling a shellacking, and it was very - it was very much that. And we'll see, I think, a test of what the democrats' message is going to be on health care and how it actually works in a race with this Jon Ossoff phrase in Georgia, at the end of June, he sent out a press release almost immediately basically saying, he's opposed to this bill and that he thinks this bill would discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. It'd be dangerous for Georgians. So, you know, democrats, they face a big test, and I think -- and we'll see whether or not they're messaging in the kind of candidate match will work in some of these districts.

BLITZER: We'll take a closer look at the actual roll call, Marc. I know you are as well, a lot of republicans represent districts that Hillary Clinton won in the last Presidential race. Look at how they voted, and we'll put it first on the screen. These are 14 members who voted yes from districts won by Hillary Clinton. And then, take a look at the next one, nine members vote republicans voted no from districts won by Hillary Clinton, so it's almost even.

THIESSEN: Almost even. You know, I was talking to a republican consultant just a couple of hours ago as this was going down, and I should say that this consultant does not agree with what happened, with the vote today politically. And I said, "Wow, you know, it's really going to hurt the centrists, you know, that are being put in a really bad spot." This consultant said, "This is going to hurt all of us right now because there really is no plan forward.

The fact that Medicaid, for instance, is really being kind of thrown off the table is putting governors in a very difficult position. You know, the fact that it's going to -- democrats are going to frame this as a tax break for the rich at the same time that premiums under this bill as written could go up for people that are 50 and 60-year-olds, which I might add, tend to be folks who vote republican. It's a very difficult thing. What's going to happen? Let's see what happens on the next round of votes. And I guarantee you that if there are people who are up and they're in trouble, they're not going to be voting with the republican leadership.

BERG: And part of a problem for republicans is that they were so focused on trying to get this bill passed that they weren't worried about trying to sell it to the American people yet. You have not seen President Trump out there doing town halls, answering questions from voters, telling them what are the positive aspects of this bill. I mean, in interviews, President Trump hasn't even appeared to really know what is in this bill much less sell it to voters and that's reflected in some of the polling we've seen on this. Republicans now need to refocus on telling Americans why they should support this.

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, they talk about flexibility for governors in different states. I don't think if you're a cancer survivor or you're a cancer sufferer, you really are reassured by this idea that your governor now can maybe do something to change pre-existing conditions coverage. And so, it's - yes, I mean, this is something that's going to hit people in their pocket, debt books around their dinner tables. And republicans have got to figure out some messaging with that.

BERG: And now, this is a difficult issue also in governors' races for republicans who need to answer to that.

[17:54:53] BLITZER: Still a long - still a long way to go on this, and the President once again, said today, they're not going to be able to deal with tax reform or tax cuts until they deal with this first. All right, guys, stand by. Coming up, more on the breaking news. There's a tough road ahead but President Trump scores his first legislative victory helping to muscle in Obamacare replacement bill through the house by a razor-thin margin.


TRUMP: How am I doing? OK. I'm president. Hey, I'm president. Can you believe it, right? I don't know.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Passing the house. President Trump scores his first legislative victory as the house approves the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare by a razor-thin margin.

Not a done deal. Now, the health care debate moves to the U.S. senate where one republican lawmaker says the house bill has zero chance of passing.

Taking a victory lap.