Trump quickly piv­ots to other is­sues as law­mak­ers fret about health care

Meets with Chicago Cubs, says ‘We’ll see what hap­pens’

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY S.A. MILLER David Sherfinski and Tom How­ell Jr. con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Af­ter a bill to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare ran aground in the Se­nate, Pres­i­dent Trump spent Wed­nes­day talk­ing en­ergy with In­dian chiefs, host­ing mem­bers of the Chicago Cubs and meet­ing with vic­tims of il­le­gal im­mi­grant crime to push pas­sage of Kate’s Law.

The quick pivot from health care, at least on his public sched­ule, fu­eled crit­i­cism that the pres­i­dent was not ad­e­quately en­gaged in push­ing the re­pealand-re­place bill in the Se­nate.

Mr. Trump ac­knowl­edged the tough time Repub­li­cans are hav­ing on the health care bill while lead­ing a round­table dis­cus­sion about en­ergy pol­icy with tribal, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials.

“We’ll see what hap­pens. We’re work­ing very hard. We’ve given our­selves a lit­tle bit more time to make it per­fect. That’s what we want to do,” he said of the bill.

A sched­uled vote this week in the Se­nate as post­poned un­til af­ter the In­de­pen­dence Day re­cess. Repub­li­can sup­port for the bill hem­or­rhaged af­ter the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice pro­jected 22 mil­lion Amer­i­cans would lose cov­er­age un­der the leg­is­la­tion.

“This has a chance to be a great health care at a rea­son­able cost. Peo­ple can save a lot of money. We get rid of the man­dates, we get rid of so much — got rid of a lot of the taxes,” said Mr. Trump. “All of the bad parts of Oba­macare are gone. Es­sen­tially, it’s a re­peal and re­place.”

Later, while hob­nob­bing with mem­bers of the 2016 Wold Se­ries cham­pion Chicago Cubs, Mr. Trump again talked up the prospects for a new health care bill.

“Health care is work­ing along very well,” he said. “We’re gonna have a big sur­prise. We have a great health care pack­age.”

He de­clined to elab­o­rate when pressed by re­porters.

Af­ter the Se­nate post­pone­ment was an­nounced Tues­day, Mr. Trump met at the White House with most of the Se­nate Repub­li­can con­fer­ence to seek a path for­ward of the bill, which is be­ing re­worked and will be re­sub­mit­ted to the CBO for a new score.

Be­fore sup­port crum­bled, Mr. Trump was ag­gres­sively mak­ing the case that Oba­macare was a dis­as­ter and Amer­i­can fam­i­lies needed to be saved from sky­rock­et­ing pre­mi­ums and dwin­dling in­sur­ance op­tions un­der the law.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence had been on the Hill ca­jol­ing sup­port. White House of­fi­cials par­tic­i­pated in draft­ing the bill with Se­nate GOP lead­ers be­hind closed doors.

How­ever, the pres­i­dent and his team have yet to make a case for the ben­e­fits of the Repub­li­can health care plan.

Some Repub­li­can law­mak­ers said Mr. Trump could have been more di­rectly in­volved from the start.

“This pres­i­dent is the first pres­i­dent in our his­tory who has had nei­ther po­lit­i­cal nor mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Sen. Su­san Collins, a mod­er­ate Maine Repub­li­can who is a hold­out. “Thus, it has been a chal­lenge to him to learn how to in­ter­act with Congress and how to push his agenda for­ward.”

Repub­li­can strate­gist Dou­glas Heye, who was a top ad­viser to House Ma­jor­ity Leader Eric Can­tor, agreed that get­ting the health care bill passed would take “a full-court press from the ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

“That said, hav­ing some pre­planned events doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean they’ve taken their eye off the ball,” he said. “There is plenty of time be­tween now and when the Se­nate re­turns for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to make its case to any­one on the fence.”

White House deputy press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said Mr. Trump was fully en­gaged and had not given up on the process.

“As some­body said be­fore, I would never un­der­es­ti­mate this pres­i­dent. If he is com­mit­ted to get­ting some­thing done, he will,” she told re­porters at the White House.

Mrs. San­ders said the pres­i­dent re­mained con­fi­dent that a re­peal-an­dreplace bill would reach his desk.

“It’s re­ally sim­ple. Repub­li­cans have been talk­ing about do­ing this for a num­ber of years and they are com­mit­ted to get­ting it done,” she said. “You are talk­ing about it as if it is over. It is cer­tainly not. This is part of the process.”

Mrs. San­ders also said the pres­i­dent was not con­cerned about ar­ti­fi­cial dead­lines but was fo­cused on cre­at­ing the best health care sys­tem for the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

“It’s about get­ting it done,” she said. “They are com­mit­ted to get­ting some­thing in that works.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Trump met with 2016 World Se­ries Cham­pi­ons the Chicago Cubs on Wed­nes­day. The quick change in sub­ject from health care to en­ergy and im­mi­gra­tion has left many won­der­ing if Mr. Trump is com­mit­ted to the ‘re­peal and re­place’ bill.

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