Politics

Trump Is ‘Very Supportive’ of Senate Health Care Bill

President breaks silence after spokeswoman signaled hands-off approach

President Donald Trump threw his support behind the Senate GOP’s health care bill on Thursday evening. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday evening that he is “very supportive” of the health care bill crafted by Senate Republican leadership, departing from an earlier more cautious approach by his White House communications team.

The president’s support for the bill — which proposes Medicaid cuts, and an end to the 2010 health care law’s individual mandate — comes as Senate leaders must win over several conservative senators who on Thursday announced they have concerns with the measure. It is unclear whether Trump’s support will help bring those conservatives on board.

In the tweet, however, the president signaled he may insist on changes to the bill, writing that he envisions “making it really special!”

“Remember, ObamaCare is dead,” Trump added, referring to the 2010 health care law.

Trump had previously said the Senate health care legislation needed more “heart.” On Thursday, when asked by reporters if the Senate GOP’s draft met that standard, the president said it will take “a little negotiation, but it’s going to be very good,” CNN reported.

Hours earlier, a top spokeswoman signaled the White House would largely stand aside and allow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his top lieutenants to try to get the 50 GOP votes necessary to pass the health care legislation.

When Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders briefed reporters just after 1 p.m., a few hours after the health care draft was shared with senators and then made public, she declined to discuss any of its contents.

In fact, she said there were no plans for Trump to weigh in on any single provision. Around five hours later, he threw his weight behind the entire bill.

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Earlier, Sanders focused only on the Senate’s “process” and signaled the president was mostly concerned with a “final product” bill — which would be crafted by a House-Senate conference committee should the Senate managed to pass its version of the health care bill. That could happen as soon as next week, meaning differences with a House-passed version would have to be worked out before a final bill could hit Trump’s desk.

Sanders said Trump was “pleased to see the process moving forward.”

In fact, Trump’s No. 2 spokesperson told reporters the president and his aides planned to advise senators rather than be heavily involved.

“We’re looking for the best bill possible, and we’re going to continue being part of technical assistance,” Sanders said, “providing that with both House and Senate members.”

The president did not say on Twitter on Thursday evening whether he wants the Senate to vote on the health care measure before it leaves next week for its July Fourth recess. But earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence signaled the administration wants a vote soon.

Pence exhorted attendees at a builders and contractors conference in Washington to contact their congressional delegation members and urge them to demand leadership hold votes before the August break.

“This is the moment,” Pence said. “Now is the time.”

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