Amid mounting outrage over Senate Republican efforts to conceal the contents of a draft bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Health Care Act, White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted Tuesday that President Donald Trump “clearly” sought a bill that had “heart in it.”
“He believes that health care is something that is near and dear to so many families and individuals,” Spicer said in his first press briefing in more than a week. “He made it clear from the beginning that was one of his priorities. 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 that it needs.”
Spicer could not say, however, whether the president has had a chance to review the proposal yet.
“I don’t know that,” he said. “I know that there was some chatter today. I know the president has been on the phone extensively with the leader and with key senators, so I don’t know if he’s seen the legislation or not.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has voiced concern over the reform bill. Just last week, Trump reportedly told a room of Republican leaders that he felt the House version was “mean.” He also appeared to be in favor of more spending on the health care plan:
I suggest that we add more dollars to Healthcare and make it the best anywhere. ObamaCare is dead – the Republicans will do much better!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017
Despite his critiques of the bill’s contents, Trump has largely applauded the process, even hosting a Rose Garden ceremony last month to celebrate the passage in the House of the “incredible” bill. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 23 million people would lose insurance under that proposal.
Senate Republican leaders have drawn intense criticism from Democrats and even some Republicans for the lack of transparency in drafting the bill, as the Republican leadership has avoided holding hearings or offering a chance for public debate on the legislation.
Shortly after the briefing Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that Republican senators would finally be allowed to get a glimpse of the bill on Thursday, with plans to send it to the Congressional Budget Office as early as next week.