WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump, posed the question whether he would choose to pass healthcare reform or government funding through Congress next week, said he wants both.
“We’re doing very well on healthcare. We’ll see what happens. But this is a great bill. There’s a great plan. And this will be great healthcare,” Trump told a room full of reporters at a joint press conference with the President and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
“It’s evolving,” Trump added.
Congressional Republican leadership has struggled to make good on campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare. A hard push to pass House Republican leadership’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) has thus far failed to garner the votes needed for passage, with Republicans on both ends of the spectrum struggling to reconcile themselves to vote yes.
“You know, there was never a give-up,” Trump continued. “Remember, it took Obamacare 17 months. I’ve really been negotiating this for two months, maybe even less than that, because we had a 30-day period where we did lots of other things the first 30 days.”
After two scheduled House votes were canceled, Trump expressed the intent to move on to tax reform. The President tweeted that he blamed the House Freedom caucus for the bill’s demise, despite additional opposition from moderates to the bill that House Republican leadership crafted and championed.
Among the most vocal critics of the AHCA as the House leadership’s bill moved forward was Sen. Rand Paul. Just over a week after the canceled votes, Paul went golfing with Trump and the two talked about healthcare reform.
During the Thursday joint press conference, Trump continued:
But this has really been two months. And this is a continuation. And the plan gets better and better and better. And it’s gotten really, really good. And a lot of people are liking it a lot. We have a good chance of getting it soon. I’d like to say next week, but it will be — I believe we will get it. And whether it’s next week or shortly thereafter. As far as keeping the government open, I think we want to keep the government open.
Earlier this week Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that with the pushback on the aggressive timeline for healthcare, he didn’t expect tax reform to pass until after the August recess. He did however indicate that he expects tax reform to pass in 2017.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana