NEW: Sen. Thad Cochran said he'll follow doctor's orders and return October 16
Donald Trump said he believes his party has the votes to pass health care legislation
Republican Sen. Thad Cochran wants his constituents – and possibly President Donald Trump, as well – to know that although he’s recuperating from a urological issue in Mississippi, he’s not currently in a hospital.
“Thanks for the well-wishes. I’m not hospitalized, but am recuperating at home in Mississippi and look forward to returning to work soon,” Cochran tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Cochran’s tweet came after Trump cited an unnamed senator being in the hospital as part of the reason why Republicans are unable to pass a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ahead of this weekend’s deadline to use the reconciliation process, which would require just 50 votes. There are 52 Republican US senators.
“I just wanted to say, though, on health care, we have the votes for health care. We have one senator that’s in the hospital. He can’t vote because he’s in the hospital,” Trump told reporters Wednesday on the White House lawn. Trump was asked if he was referring to Cochran but did not answer.
He continued, “We have two other votes that are coming, and we will have them. But the problem is we can’t have them by Friday because the reconciliation ends on Friday, so we’ll have to do it in January or February. But I feel we have the votes. I’m almost certain we have the votes.”
Cochran’s office, however, said provisions would have been made for the senator to return to Washington to help pass the bill if his vote was needed.
A bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy failed to garner enough support earlier this week, after Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Rand Paul and John McCain said they wouldn’t back the legislation.
On Thursday, the senator said in a statement that he would return to Washington on October 16, after the Columbus Day recess.
“My physician told me today I am improving, but recommended I remain at home in Mississippi another week,” Cochran said. “I will follow that advice. I will return to the Senate on October 16 in order to continue work on the appropriations process and participate in upcoming debates on the budget and tax reform.”
CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report.