President Donald Trump tried to rally Republican lawmakers behind a plan to dismantle Obamacare on Tuesday as U.S. stock markets showed their worst one-day performance since the November election.
Trump is trying to win the first major legislative battle of his presidency. Pressure is growing on the businessman-turned politician to deliver as investors become worried that a failed healthcare push could also portend trouble for promised tax cuts and relaxed regulation that have propelled the market to record highs in recent months.
In one of the few visits he has made to the U.S. Capitol since taking office two months ago, Trump told fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives on Tuesday morning they would face "political problems" for opposing the bill that takes apart Obamacare and partially replaces it. Later in the day, Trump hosted roughly a dozen lawmakers in the Oval Office to listen to their concerns.
"The president was really clear: He laid it on the line for everybody," House Speaker Paul Ryan, the leading proponent of the bill, told reporters. "We made a promise. Now is our time to keep that promise. ... If we don't keep our promise, it will be very hard to manage this."
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average lost over 1 percent in their worst one-day performances since before Trump's election victory on Nov. 8. The S&P financial index sank 2.87 percent, its biggest daily fall since June.
“You have this back and forth in Congress with the new healthcare plan and you have this belief that if the healthcare plan can’t pass, then they can’t move on to taxes. There’s this feeling that if things don’t get done, then maybe what the market has been anticipating gets held up," said Mark Kepner, managing director at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
Some conservative lawmakers believe the healthcare bill does not go far enough, while moderate Republicans worry that millions of Americans will be hurt by the dismantling of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare legislation. (For a graphic on how U.S. healthcare stacks up under the ACA and AHCA
Party leaders hope to move the bill to the House floor for debate as early as Thursday. But the administration and House leadership can afford to lose only about 20 Republican votes or risk the bill failing since Democrats are united against it.
Republican Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said the roughly three dozen members have decided not to vote as a bloc. As many as 21 currently plan to vote no on the legislation, according to a CNN report.
Republican Representative Walter Jones said Trump told lawmakers in the closed-door meeting at the Capitol that if the Republican bill does not pass, they would face "political problems." Jones said he thought Trump meant lawmakers could lose their seats.
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