White House seeks to explain Trump comments on senator

President Trump’s top spokeswoman on Thursday sought to explain his false claim that an ObamaCare repeal bill could not pass because a senator was in the hospital.

“The point we're making is that we have the votes on the substance, just not necessarily on the process,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Sanders confirmed the president was referring to Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranMississippi Democrat drops Senate bid Dems look to keep up momentum in upcoming special elections Chamber of Commerce makes play in Mississippi Senate race for Hyde-Smith MORE (R-Miss.), who has been suffering from health problems.

“Look, our understanding was that the senator was physically unable to be here this week,” she said. 

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Cochran, however, was not in the hospital. He said he was at home recuperating from a urological problem. 

And Cochran was not a factor in the Senate GOP’s decision to not hold a vote on the ObamaCare measure.

GOP leaders decided to scrap the vote after it was apparent they lacked enough votes to pass it. Three Republican senators — Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending Hillicon Valley: Sweeping new data rules take effect | Facebook, Google already hit with complaints | Schumer slams reported ZTE deal | Senators look to save cyber post | Dem wants answers about Trump's phone security Senators express concern over Trump's decision to scrap top cyber post MORE (Maine), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTo woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action Senate panel again looks to force Trump’s hand on cyber warfare strategy Senate panel advances 6B defense policy bill MORE (Ariz.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending Pro-Trump super PAC raises .5 million in 6 weeks Trump has exposed Democratic hypocrisy on prison reform MORE (Ky.) — all opposed it. 

Republicans could only afford two defections and still have enough votes to pass the measure. 

The Senate faces a Sept. 30 deadline to vote on a health-care bill under rules that would allow it to pass on a majority vote.

Trump has claimed at least six times that the health-care bill would have passed if Cochran was not in the hospital. 

“We don't have enough time, because we have one senator who’s a ‘yes’ vote — a great person, but he's in the hospital. And he’s a ‘yes’ vote. So we can't do it by Friday. So we have the votes,” he said in a Fox News interview that aired Thursday.