May 25, 2018

Trump calls House healthcare bill 'mean'

17 June 2017, 05:52 | Lena Norman

Trump calls House healthcare bill 'mean'

President Donald Trump speaks before having lunch with Republican Senators and White House staffers in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington Tuesday

A month after praising the House-approved bill and ensuring it was "incredibly well-crafted", Trump urged the senators to make substantial changes to the same bill, which has been created to replace President Barack Obama's health reform implemented in 2010, but still needs the Senate's approval, according to legislative sources cited by media outlets CNN and The Hill.

Since House Republicans passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare last month after much hand-wringing and drama, a "working group" of Senate Republicans have been meeting to share their preferences for a health care bill.

Senators are seriously considering keeping in place some ObamaCare taxes for longer than the House-passed bill would as they seek to draft healthcare legislation that can pass their chamber with a simple majority.

The White House pressured the House to vote quickly on its healthcare bill in the spring, creating a tense process that Thune said Senate Republicans were looking to avoid.

Now, however, he is sounding a different tune.

Trump told the lawmakers that the House bill didn't go far enough in protecting individuals in the marketplace - and appeared to use that as his rationale for why he has ambiguously called twice for the Senate to "add more money" to the bill.

The group of 13 senators that Trump invited to lunch includes Republicans from both ideological camps: moderate Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were on the list, as well as conservative Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.

The irony of moving forward with nothing in public is hardly lost on Democrats, who were pummeled by Republicans in 2009 as they were drafting the Affordable Care Act. Johnson nearly certainly must be one of the 50 votes required to pass a GOP health care bill in the Senate.

Trump's remarks were a surprising critique of a Republican-written House measure whose passage he lobbied for and praised.

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After the meeting with senators, Trump flew to Wisconsin, where, for the second week in a row, he highlighted the stories of people whose health care premiums have increased - people the White House has dubbed "Obamacare victims".

One GOP Senate aide said there wasn't a lot of substance in the meeting.

Reports have suggested a few major problems preventing Republicans from coming together behind one bill and advancing it to the floor for a vote.

Trump had not publicly criticized the House bill previously. Another said Trump used a vulgar phrase to describe the House bill and told the senators, "We need to be more generous".

MacArthur's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's description of the bill MacArthur helped resuscitate.

Asked if he'd seen details of the Senate GOP health care bill, Johnson said no. "I'm exhausted of Republicans promising they would repeal Obamacare and then negotiating to keep it". Trump has told associates that news coverage of the House health care bill was "terrible", in the words of one associate who has spoken with him.

On Tuesday, several Democratic lawmakers pointed out Trump's contradicting statements on Twitter.

"The total bill hasn't been resolved", he said. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and more conservative members, Portman said, "No, but that wasn't the goal of it".

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