President Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the bill passed by the House to repeal and replace ObamaCare is “mean” and “harsh,” multiple GOP and Senate sources have told Fox News.
The sources added that Trump told the group of 15 Republicans that they should build a “more generous” and “more kind” version of the American Health Care Act.
Trump’s remarks, made during a White House lunch, were a surprising critique of the House measure whose passage he lobbied for and praised. At a Rose Garden ceremony minutes after the bill’s narrow House passage last month, Trump called it “a great plan.”
The president’s comments also seemed to undercut efforts by Senate conservatives to include 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 efforts.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., one of the lawmakers at the lunch, told Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier” Tuesday that he would not “confirm anything that the president did or didn’t say with respect to either the House bill or the Senate process.
“But, what I will say is he does believe, and I think, we can improve upon the House product … and get a bill that is more workable for the American people,” Thune added.
The Associated Press first reported Trump’s comments, citing two GOP congressional sources who received accounts of the lunch and spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal a closed-door conversation.
The AP’s sources said the president did not specify what aspects of the bill he was characterizing as “mean.”
“He thinks that the Senate can improve upon the House bill and that he likes the fact that the Senate is writing their own version,” Thune told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “What I think he conveyed to us was [a] sense of urgency [and] the need to get this done … I think right now he’s kind of deferring to us and, frankly, that’s a good thing.”
Fox News’ Serafin Gomez and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.