Less than an hour after White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he didn’t know whether President Donald Trump or his advisers have viewed a draft of Senate Republicans’ health care bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced that it will make its debut on Thursday.
The announcement came as Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill have voiced concerns that the process to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has been shrouded in secrecy.
“I expect to have a discussion draft on Thursday, and we will go to the floor once we have a CBO score, likely next week,” McConnell said on Tuesday afternoon, referring to Congressional Budget Office estimates of the costs and likely effects of bills.
He said Americans will have “plenty of time” to review the proposed legislation. “We’ve been discussing all the elements of this endlessly for seven years. Everybody pretty well understands it. Everybody will have adequate time to take a look at it. I think this will be about as transparent as it can be.”
Earlier Tuesday, in response to a question at the daily press briefing, Spicer told reporters, “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, but I know that they’ve been working extremely hard and the president has been giving his input and his ideas, feedback to them, and he’s very excited about where this thing is headed.”
Pressed on whether the president’s advisers have viewed the bill, Spicer repeated that he was unaware and said he did not know “where we are in terms of a final plan.”
“I know that they are up there working hand in glove with them,” he said. “I know that the staff has been working very closely with the leader’s staff, with [the Senate Finance Committee] and others, so I don’t want to get ahead of an announcement on Sen. McConnell saying when that final product is done.”
Earlier in the briefing, Spicer expounded on a CNBC report from that day that Trump told a group of technology CEOs that the health care plan needed to have “more heart.”
“I mean, the president clearly wants a bill that has heart in it,” said Spicer. “He believes that health care is something that is near and dear to so many families and individuals.”
McConnell declined to describe how the Senate bill will have more heart than the House bill, saying only that it will “speak for itself” and “be different.”