Congressional sources say President Donald Trump has told Republican senators that the House health care bill is “mean” and that the Senate version should be “more generous.”
The remarks were a surprising critique of a Republican-written House measure whose passage Trump fought for and embraced. They also seem to undercut efforts by Senate conservatives to impose restrictions in their chamber’s legislation, such as curbing the Medicaid health care program for the poor and limiting the services insurers must cover.
But Trump made clear that the Senate needs to pass a bill that Republicans are able to more easily defend and is not viewed as an attack on low-income Americans as the House bill has been portrayed by critics, Politico reported.
The sources told The Associated Press that the president did not say what aspects of the bill he was characterizing.
Trump’s comments were described by people who received accounts of a White House lunch Trump had Tuesday with 15 GOP senators to discuss the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. They spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal a closed-door conversation.
Trump said President Barack Obama’s health care law “had been broken and it’s been a broken promise.” He said a replacement will be “generous, kind” and show “heart” and promised more funding.
Attendees at the lunch include Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins.
Trump accused congressional Democrats of obstruction and said they would not provide even one vote for “the best plan ever.”
Senate Republicans are winnowing down policy options in search of 51 votes to advance House-passed legislation this summer.