WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the House-passed health care bill is “mean” and urged them to craft a version that is “more generous,” congressional sources said.
The president’s comments, at a White House lunch with 15 GOP senators, came as Senate Republican leaders’ attempts to write their own health care package have been slowed by disagreements between their party’s conservative and moderates.
Trump’s remarks were a surprising critique of a Republican-written House measure whose passage he lobbied for and praised. At a Rose Garden ceremony minutes after the bill’s narrow House passage, Trump called it “a great plan.”
His 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.
The sources say the president did not specify what aspects of the bill he was characterizing.
Trump’s comments were described by two GOP congressional sources who received accounts of Tuesday’s White House lunch. They spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal a closed-door conversation.
Their descriptions of Trump’s words differed slightly.
One source said Trump called the House bill “mean, mean, mean” and said, “We need to be more generous, more kind.” The other source said Trump used a vulgar phrase to describe the House bill and told the senators, “We need to be more generous.”