GOP rep says Trump could visit Capitol Hill to pitch healthcare plan

A Republican lawmaker suggested Friday that President Trump could pay a visit to Capitol Hill next week to wrangle support for the GOP healthcare plan.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) insisted Republicans would support the plan, but said if they find themselves short of the necessary 216 votes, Trump may pay a visit.

"It's a possibility," Cole said in an interview with The Hill's Molly K. Hooper. "I wouldn't be surprised to see that. And make the pitch."

Cole called Trump "absolutely indispensable in bringing us all together" on the plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, which has sparked GOP divisions.

If leaders find themselves shy of the 216 votes needed for passage, Cole suggested that "Trump come to the House conference."

Cole made the comments minutes after he left a private meeting with his fellow Rules Committee members in Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) Capitol office suite.

"I think we'll get there," Cole insisted of Republicans' efforts, adding, "let's work through the weekend, see where we are early next week, and keep at it."

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the House will vote Thursday on the bill, while fellow GOP leaders make a full court press to win support.

A number of conservative lawmakers have voiced their continued opposition to the bill, which some moderate Republicans have also said they oppose.

Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) told The Hill he is still a "no" on the measure, along with "plenty" of his colleagues despite hearing from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price early Friday in a closed-door meeting with the GOP conference.

While the Trump administration and GOP leaders have pitched a multi-prong process for repealing ObamaCare, Brat and other members of the conservative Freedom Caucus want to pursue a more robust repeal package that includes the actions Price will likely take in his role as HHS secretary.

Brat said he doesn't trust future HHS secretaries to undo ObamaCare regulations, explaining in an interview that "when one-sixth of the economy is at stake, I can't take that chance. I’m a no vote until we go fight in the Senate."

Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), fresh from a meeting in the Oval Office with President Trump, Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and a handful of "leaning no/undecided" GOP lawmakers on Friday, was confident that 216 votes will be cast for the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) next week.