President Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the House GOP health-care bill was "mean" and he expects the Senate to "improve" the legislation considerably, according to several Republicans familiar with the gathering.
Still, no matter what the Republican-controlled Congress writes up to replace it - even if it's "the greatest health bill or tax cut ever in our country's history" - Trump lamented that not one Democratic legislator would vote for it.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who attended a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday, said upon returning to Capitol Hill that she couldn't say whether GOP leaders were taking into account her suggestions.
The sources say the president did not specify what aspects of the bill he was characterizing.
Under reconciliation, the procedural process that Republicans are using to pass legislation to avoid a filibuster, the Senate debate is limited to 20 hours. "With health care, you can wake up one morning, and your doctor says, 'You've got breast cancer, ' or 'You've got this problem or that problem'". In other words, Senate Republican leadership learned a lesson from the rocky rollout of the House Obamacare repeal bill, which was supported only by Republicans, including Rep. Bruce Poliquin. "They'll come out with a real bill, not Obamacare".
"The total bill hasn't been resolved", he said.
Trump blasted Democrats as being obstructionists in the effort. During a portion of the lunch that was open to reporters, the president told the senators that their health care bill would need to be "generous" and "kind".
A second source familiar with Tuesday's meeting, which included a mix of moderate and ultra-conservative voices, said Trump avoided pushing the senators to set a deadline for a healthcare vote.
As Republican leaders look to build support for the health care overhaul they are writing behind closed doors, they are trying to reassure senators who fear vulnerable constituents would lose access to care.
The consensus-driven body is expected to send its bill to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring in the coming days, but will reportedly not release the scoring to the public before they vote on the measure.
"It might be that McConnell knows he can't get to 50 so he's going as far left as possible to give moderates cover when they do vote for this bill". Indeed, if they don't release the bill until after the CBO's report, and hold to their plan to take a vote on the legislation before their July Fourth recess, the public will have nearly no time to absorb it, let alone convey their sentiments to their lawmakers. You know what's in it, we have no idea.
Like their House colleagues, Senate Republicans are attempting to hide the controversial Obamacare replacement bill, even prohibiting reporters from asking questions in hallways. Republicans are weighing changes to the House plan that include a slower phase-out of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, better protection for people with pre-existing conditions, and tax credits based on income as well as age. "So we have kept our promises".