President Donald Trump reportedly told Republican senators the House-passed version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is “mean” and asked for the Senate version to be “more generous,” according to congressional sources who spoke to the Associated Press.
Those comments differ from Trump’s previous praise of the bill, including when he called it “a great plan” during a celebratory May 4 press conference after the House narrowly approved the measure. In the portion of the June 13 which was open to reporters, his comments were more positive than what he supposedly said in private.
“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,” Trump said.
According to multiple senators who were present at the meeting, its purpose was not to settle policy differences among Republicans, such as the timeline to roll back the expansion of Medicaid, what subsidies to offer for buying insurance, what ACA taxes should stay in place and if Congress should fund cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurers.
“He just mostly listened,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told The Hill.
Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, countered that a few policy specifics were discussed with the president.
“He talked about making sure we have a bill that protects people with pre-existing conditions and helps people,” Thune told NBC. “We talked a little bit about the tax credit to make that work for low income elderly people,” adding that Trump “certainly is fine with us taking a different direction with what the house did.”
Several senators said there’s no deadline on passing the bill, but they’ve reportedly been aiming for a vote by the end of June. Since a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill would be required before any vote under the budget reconciliation process, and that report would take about two weeks to prepare, the legislation may need to be finalized by June 16.