Saturday July 4th, 2020 10:31AM

AP sources: Trump tells senators House health bill 'mean'

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the House-passed health care bill he helped revive is "mean" and urged them to craft a version that is "more generous," congressional sources said.

Trump's remarks were a surprising slap at a Republican-written House measure that was shepherded by Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and whose passage the president lobbied for and praised. At a Rose Garden ceremony minutes after the bill's narrow House passage on May 4, Trump called it "a great plan."

The president's criticism, at a White House lunch with 15 GOP senators, 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 seemed to 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 restrictions.

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, R-Ky., 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.

Their descriptions of Trump's words differed slightly.

One source said Trump called the House bill "mean, mean, mean" and said, "We need to be more generous, more kind." The other source said Trump used a vulgarity 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 provided ammunition to Democrats who have unanimously opposed the Republican effort to dismantle President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

"Americans won't forget that @HouseGOP passed a 'mean' bill to rip healthcare from millions then celebrated @ the WH," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

In an embarrassing retreat, Ryan had to abruptly cancel a March vote on the House measure after a revolt by Republican conservatives and moderates that would have ensured its defeat.

The measure's final version reflected a compromise by conservative leader Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and centrist Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J. They agreed to language letting states drop requirements under Obama's health care law protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions from higher premiums and requiring insurers to cover specific services like maternity care.

At the White House ceremony celebrating House passage, Trump and Ryan praised the legislation as the fulfillment of campaign promises Trump and GOP congressional candidates had long made to repeal Obama's 2010 statute.

"Many of you have been waiting seven years to cast this vote," Ryan said to the scores of Republican House members present. "Many of you are here because you pledged to cast this vote."

Asked to comment on Trump's remarks about the House measure, Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said, "Congressional Republicans, with President Trump's support, are working to repeal and replace this terrible Obamacare law that is harming Americans."

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.

MacArthur's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's description of the bill MacArthur helped resuscitate. Just last weekend, Trump used his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., to hold a fundraising event for MacArthur that netted $800,000.

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!"

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."

After meeting with two such couples after landing in Milwaukee, Trump pointed to "millions of American families" he said "continue to suffer from Obamacare while Congressional Democrats obstruct our efforts to rescue them."

Trump did not discuss the House GOP health care plan in any detail, but said the Senate is getting ready to do something.


AP reporters Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Kenneth Thomas and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
AP sources: Trump tells senators House health bill 'mean'
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."
4:25PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Uber CEO to take leave; report recommends broad changes
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence for an unspecified period and let his leadership team run the troubled ride-hailing company while he's gone
4:07PM ( 22 minutes ago )
The Latest: Sessions bristles at Wyden query on recusal
Sessions bristles at Wyden query about problems involved with recusal
4:07PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Sessions says he long had concerns over Comey
Sessions says he had concerns about Comey before FBI director's firing
3:41PM ( 49 minutes ago )
The Latest: Sessions recused self over Trump campaign ties
Sessions says he recused himself from Russia probe because of his own ties to Trump campaign
3:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Sessions denies 'false and scurrilous allegations'
Attorney General Jeff Sessions denies 'false and scurrilous allegations' about his contacts with Russian official in a dramatic appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He
3:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Tillerson warns against steps that cut off talks with Russia
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson withheld judgment on a new Russia sanctions package while cautioning against taking steps that might close off promising avenues of communication between the two former Cold War foes
2:29PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump says new health care law will be 'kind'
President Donald Trump says apprenticeships could match workers with the nation's estimated 6 million open jobs but they are reluctant to spend any taxpayer money on the effort
2:10PM ( 2 hours ago )
FARC's elusive finances undercut support for Colombia peace
As Colombia's leftist rebel movement begins making its transition to a political party, a crucial question hangs over the process: how much money is it hiding
1:50PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Drones carrying defibrillators could aid heart emergencies
Researchers tested using small drones to carry heart defibrillators to homes where people had cardiac arrests
1:58PM ( 2 hours ago )
FDA delays revamped nutrition facts panel
FDA delays revamped nutrition facts panel aimed at making it easier to see calories and added sugars
1:24PM ( 3 hours ago )
Iraq: Food poisoning strikes hundreds at camp for displaced
Iraqi officials say food poisoning at a camp for displaced residents of Mosul has made more than 700 people sick, with hundreds hospitalized
1:10PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Health
US stocks bounce back toward records as tech companies rise
After two days of losses, stock indexes are trading at record highs again as technology companies rebound.
3:44PM ( 46 minutes ago )
The Latest: Soccer fans pay tribute to attacks victims
France and England players and fans pay tribute to attacks victims
3:15PM ( 1 hour ago )
GM raises output of self-driving Bolts, boosts test fleet
General Motors says it has built 130 self-driving Chevrolet Bolts to join its test fleet
2:46PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Uber CEO to take leave; report recommends broad changes
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence for an unspecified period and let his leadership team run the troubled ride-hailing company while he's gone
4:07PM ( 22 minutes ago )
The Latest: Sessions bristles at Wyden query on recusal
Sessions bristles at Wyden query about problems involved with recusal
4:07PM ( 22 minutes ago )
The 8 teams contesting the Confederations Cup in Russia
The Confederations Cup kicks off on Saturday headlined by World Cup holder Germany and host Russia
4:06PM ( 23 minutes ago )
The Latest: Putin talks Qatar with Abu Dhabi crown prince
The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed tensions around Qatar with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi
4:00PM ( 29 minutes ago )
The Latest: Sessions hits Comey over talk of Clinton emails
Sessions says Comey's public talk about Clinton's emails usurped Justice's authority
3:55PM ( 34 minutes ago )