President Trump called the House’s ObamaCare repeal bill “mean” and said it should be more generous during a meeting with Republican senators Tuesday, according to a Senate GOP aide.
The comments, which were first reported by The Associated Press, were striking given that Trump has previously praised the House bill and celebrated its passage at the White House.
“This is a great plan,” Trump said last month during a Rose Garden ceremony attended by House Republicans the day the bill passed the lower chamber.
Asked about Trump’s remark, AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said: “Congressional Republicans, with President Trump’s support, are working to repeal and replace this terrible Obamacare law that is harming Americans.”
In the public section of the meeting, Trump said: “I really appreciate what you’re doing to come out with a bill that’s going to be a phenomenal bill to the people of our country: generous, kind, with heart. That’s what I’m saying.”
The changes to the Senate bill are not expected to be drastic. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) recently estimated that the Senate bill would be about 80 percent the same as the House measure.
“His message was that there’s a sense of urgency about this,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said after the meeting with the president. “We can’t afford to fail; we’ve got to get it done, and he’s certainly fine with the Senate taking a different direction than what the House [did].”
This comes after healthcare groups criticized Republican senators for closing their doors to the public as they write legislation repealing and replacing Obamacare, affecting millions of Americans and one-sixth of the American economy.
In 2009, the Senate spent 25 days debating the ACA before passing the bill on Christmas Eve, the longest markup in the Senate Finance Committee’s entire history. Senate Republicans haven’t even drafted their bill, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already proposed a timeline where the body votes before their Fourth of July recess — exactly 18 days from now.