Spicer: Trump Wants ‘Heart’ In Secret Health Bill, Won’t Say What That Means

White House press secretary Sean Spicer arrives for a briefing at the White House, Tuesday, June 20, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/AP

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that President Donald Trump wants the Senate to pass a health care bill that has “heart.” Spicer declined to go into specifics of the legislation Republicans are currently drafting in secret, despite reports that it could face a vote before the end of the month.

“There were some reports out that President Trump told members of that tech meeting yesterday that the Senate health care bill needed to have ‘more heart,’” the New York Post’s Gabby Morrongiello asked Spicer at a press briefing Tuesday. “Can you shed some light on what it is he’s not pleased with in the legislation that’s being drafted? And can you also tell us why he would feel that way after holding a press conference in the Rose Garden supporting the House version of the health care bill?”

Morrongiello seemed to be referring to a report from NBC News Tuesday, which cited an unnamed source familiar with the exchange, that Trump told a meeting of tech CEOs Monday that the Senate’s health care bill needs “more heart.”

“I mean, the President clearly wants a bill that has heart in it,” Spicer responded. “He believes that health care is something that is near and dear to so many families and individuals. He made it clear from the beginning that that was one of his priorities. And as the Senate works its way through this bill, as the House did, any ideas are welcome to strengthen it, to make it more affordable, more accessible and deliver the care it needs.”

“But this is an area that the President believes passionately about,” he continued. “He understands the role that health care plays in so many people’s lives, and their families,’ and he wants to make sure that we do everything we can to provide the best option for him as Obamacare continues to fail.”

Reports on the bill, which could see a vote this month without ever passing through a committee or being subject to public debate, indicate it would slash Medicaid funding and kneecap Obamacare’s subsidies for individuals buying insurance on the private market.

The Associated Press reported on June 13 that Trump had called the House’s health bill “mean” in a meeting with Republican senators, according to unnamed congressional sources, and that he had urged the senators to be “more generous” with their version.

Morrongiello followed up, asking if there was “a specific part of this bill, though, that leads him to believe that the Senate is doing something — ”

“I’m not — again, this is an on going discussion with Senate leaders and individual senators that he’s had, you know that we’ve brought a lot of those individuals to the White House and there’s been staff level meetings as well, Secretary Price and others,” Spicer said. “So I’m not going to get into the private discussions that have occurred. But I will just say that the more that we can do to produce a bill as it works its way through the process that achieves the President’s goals, I think that’s something that we can all agree on.”

Spicer said later that he didn’t know if Trump had seen a copy of the bill. He did say, “I know that the staff has been working very closely with the leader’s staff, with Senate Finance and others, so I don’t want to get ahead of an announcement on Sen. McConnell saying when that final product is done.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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