Trump's comments were described by two GOP congressional sources
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, June 13, 2017. photo: AP/Susan Walsh, photo: AP/Susan Walsh
14 of June 2017 14:26:42
WASHINGTON – Less than six weeks after he helped revive a flagging House Republican health care bill and push it to passage, President Donald Trump now says the measure is "mean" and is asking GOP senators to make it more generous.Trump used those words Tuesday at a closed-door White House lunch with 15 Republican senators, congressional sources say. It was a startling slap at legislation that was shepherded by Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, and whose passage the president lobbied for and praised. At a Rose Garden ceremony minutes after the bill's 217-213 House passage on May 4, Trump called it "a great plan."https://youtu.be/VCxTR36UjhMThe president's criticism also came as Senate Republican leaders' attempts to write their own health care package have been slowed by disagreements between their party's conservatives and moderates.Trump's characterizations could undercut attempts by Senate leaders to assuage conservatives who want restrictions in their chamber's bill, such as cutting the Medicaid health care program for the poor and limiting the services insurers must cover. Moderate GOP senators have been pushing to ease those efforts.Facing expected unanimous Democratic opposition, Republicans will be unable to pass a Senate bill if just three of the 52 GOP senators vote "no." Alienating any of them could make approving the measure trickier for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky, who's been hoping for a vote before Congress' July 4 recess.Trump's comments were described by two GOP congressional sources who received accounts of Tuesday's White House lunch. They spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal a closed-door conversation.One source said Trump called the House bill "mean, mean, mean" and said, "We need to be more generous, more kind." Another said Trump used a vulgar phrase to describe the House bill and told the senators, "We need to be more generous."Two other congressional GOP officials confirmed that the general descriptions of Trump's words were accurate.The sources say the president did not specify what aspects of the bill he was characterizing.White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment, telling reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday evening, "We don't comment on rumors or private conversations."The remarks nevertheless provided ammunition to Democrats who have unanimously opposed the Republican effort to dismantle President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Meadows, who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said, "I have no knowledge of the president characterizing the health care bill in any other way than to suggest that we need to lower premiums and" protect people with pre-existing conditions.Just last weekend, Trump used his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., to hold a fundraising event for MacArthur that netted $800,000.MacArthur's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's description of the bill MacArthur helped resuscitate.Trump had not publicly criticized the House bill previously. But in a May 28 tweet that raised questions about his intent, he said, "I suggest that we add more dollars to Healthcare and make it the best anywhere. ObamaCare is dead - the Republicans will do much better!"
Americans deserve to know what's in the GOP health care plan.Hold hearings & be accountable to your constituents.That's democracy. https://t.co/4f5wPsHsqK— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 13, 2017