Policy

McConnell Expects Health Care Draft By Thursday

Trump calls for bill with ‘heart’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, conduct a news conference after the Senate Policy Luncheons on June 6, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed he expects to have a “discussion draft” of legislation to roll back the 2010 health care law available Thursday.

McConnell said the public will “have plenty of time” to review the discussion draft. While he didn’t specify how long the GOP will give for the public to review the language, under the reconciliation rules it appears there will be about a week.

That’s assuming release Thursday morning, as McConnell said he planned.

“I do find it particularly laughable the complaints about process,” the Kentucky Republican said, dismissing Democrats’ complaints that the GOP deliberations have been secretive and avoided public hearings and input

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune told reporters the Congressional Budget Office doesn’t have the full Republican health care bill at this time, but does have access to several of its proposed policy changes.

“I don’t think anybody has seen any final text,” Thune said. “In terms of the policy ideas and options, there has been, I think, an exchange back and forth with CBO about some of the various options to try to get feedback to help shape ultimately the way the bill is written.”

Thune said the GOP is talking with the Senate parliamentarian about whether the Republican health care bill complies with the Byrd Rule that governs what policy and tax and spending can comprise the reconciliation measure Republicans are using to re-do the health insurance system.

“It’s an ongoing conversation and discussion on a whole range of issues that, you know, we’re trying to get definitive determinations on. And hopefully by the time we bring the bill up we’ll have resolved those issues,” Thune said.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump “has been on the phone” with McConnell and “key senators” as they try to hammer out a health care overhaul bill, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at Tuesday’s press briefing at the executive mansion. Trump has been giving McConnell and others his feedback and suggestions, Spicer said, but he did not know if the president or senior aides have seen any draft of actual legislation.

Trump wants a health care overhaul bill that “has heart,” Spicer said when asked about reported comments that the president felt the House-passed version was too “mean.” Spicer did not clearly define what kind of measure would meet the “heart” standard.

Jennifer Shutt and John T. Bennett contributed to this report.Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.