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 CochranBiden has a lot at stake in first debate The Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' 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 CollinsTrump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote MORE (Maine), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAmerica's newest comedy troupe: House GOP Michelle Malkin knocks Cokie Roberts shortly after her death: 'One of the first guilty culprits of fake news' Arizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema MORE (Ariz.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOn The Money: House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November | Judge blocks California law requiring Trump tax returns | Senate panel approves three spending bills Paul objection snags confirmation of former McConnell staffer Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight 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.