Trump promises 'negotiation' on controversial health care bill

Posted at 1:05 AM, Mar 16, 2017

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Donald Trump promised Wednesday that the increasingly contentious Obamacare replacement bill would be open to "negotiation," and that his trademark deal-making could help save the legislation.

The American Health Care Act, crafted by the House GOP but backed by the White House, is in dire political shape as a growing number of hardline and moderate Republicans vow to oppose it. Trump said at a campaign rally in Nashville, Tennessee, that the steadfast opposition from the Democratic Party ensured the bill could only be passed with a united Republican Party.

"If we submitted the Democrats' plan, drawn everything perfect for the Democrats, we wouldn't get one vote from the Democrats," Trump said. "But we're going to get it by."

Asked in an interview if he was "satisfied" with the House's bill, Trump stressed that Republicans had only a slim majority in the Senate and would need to work to keep Republicans in line.

"I think we're going to have negotiation," he told Fox News' Tucker Carlson. "The only way you're going to get it passed is with Republican votes."

Nevertheless, in Nashville, Trump promised a crowd that his party would repeal and replace "horrible, disastrous Obamacare."

"It will drain our budget and destroy our jobs," Trump said.

Because Trump predicted that virtually no Democrats would vote for the bill, he said in the interview he was especially attuned to concerns from fellow Republicans.

"If this bill were perfect, if it was the greatest thing for Democrats and Republicans, we wouldn't get one Democrat vote," he claimed, saying the opposition party was "selfish" and displayed "stupidity."

Trump nevertheless deemed himself an "arbitrator" and later called the bill "preliminary," which differs from House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has pitched his legislation as a take-it-or-leave-it vote. He did say one bedrock of the follow-up legislation would be to implement a "bidding for medicine" -- or for prescription drugs.

CNN's Eli Watkins contributed to this report.


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