WASHINGTON, D.C. — After describing President Donald Trump’s role in passing the American Health Care Act through the House as “incredibly engaged” this week, Principle Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she certainly thinks the President will remain as involved moving the bill through the Senate.
Breitbart News asked Sanders during a Thursday press gaggle if the President will be as involved getting the health care bill passed in the Senate as he’s been in getting it passed in the House. “I would certainly think so,” she replied.
Sanders was also asked about insurers currently filing rates for 2018 coverage and what a potential timetable for passing the bill through the Senate would be. She said there is not a timetable, but that it is a priority for the administration, so the hope is that “the Senate will take action quickly.”
“This is the first step of the process that the House is making today,” said Huckabee-Sanders, “Obamacare is collapsing.” She went on to say, “Obamacare is simply unsustainable. I think even Democrats have started to recognize that we can’t continue on the path that we’re on and this is our moment and our time to fix it. So let’s do it, let’s do it right and let’s do it now and that’s what he’s been doing…”
Most important to the President as the bill travels through the Senate, according to Sanders, is that the bill retain the principles of, “lower cost, create competition, state flexibility.”
Asked about efforts to get the bill through the House, Sanders recounted that the President had been “incredibly engaged,” calling or meeting with approximately 15-20 members of the House directly. Some were contacted more than once.
The hotly debated AHCA narrowly passed through the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday afternoon. Afterward the President brought a host of Republican House members to the White House for a celebratory press event. Questions remain, however, as to what resistance will be seen in getting the bill passed through the U.S. Senate, where the Republican majority is a much smaller. In the event of a tie, Vice President Mike Pence, who also serves as President of the Senate, could break it.
President Trump was a very visible participant in driving the AHCA through the House, as was Vice President Pence. Pence made many trips up to Capitol Hill for meetings on the bill, while both moderate House Tuesday Group members and conservative Freedom Caucus members brought up their requirements for earning “yes” votes on the bill. With a pre-Easter recess deadline set for getting the bill passed, House Speaker Paul Ryan twice scheduled a vote that had to be cancelled for lack of enough votes to pass the bill.
However, members including Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows persisted in talks with the Trump Administration to make adjustments to the bill sufficient to see it pass.
As the bill passes on to the Senate, several Senators have expressed apprehension over the bill in its current form.
In a Friday press briefing, Sanders expressed a sentiment also present at the prior day’s celebration of House passage of the AHCA — that the this is just the first step in the process of repealing and replacing Obamacare. She added that there credit isn’t owed to one person for the bill’s passage, but “It’s a win for the American people.” She added that she found it weird that Democrats seemed opposed to choice in digging in with Obamacare, which she called the “opposite of choice.”
Asked on Friday about the difficulty of getting the AHCA through the Senate, Sanders told reporters, “The one thing that you can be sure of is to never underestimate this President.” She said the administration expects there to be some changes, but with the same big principles. Sanders said the administration is not putting an “artificial timeline” on passing the bill through the Senate and reiterated that the President wanted to get the bill right. The original health care reform proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare included a three phase plan, of which the AHCA legislation was phase one.
The Administration has previously said it wanted to get health care passed in order to move on to tax reform. In recent weeks the White House released an outline for what the President would like to see in a tax reform package.
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