Politics

EXCLUSIVE: White House Rules Out ‘Wholesale Replacement’ Of Healthcare Bill

President Trump will not be “receptive” to a “wholesale replacement” of Republicans’ current proposed healthcare bill, a White House official speaking on background told The Daily Caller.

The official said the White House wasn’t entirely surprised when conservative political groups like Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity and Club for Growth came out against the American Health Care Act, expressing hope that certain “tweaks” to the bill will win over skeptical conservatives, as long as they don’t expect too much.

“If some of these groups want a wholesale replacement of the bill, that’s not going to happen,” the official cautioned. “President Trump wouldn’t be receptive to that.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan staked out a similar position on Thursday, saying the AHCA is “the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

Some Republican congressman have criticized the proposed bill, calling instead for separate legislation that they say more fully repeals Obamacare. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and House Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan recently announced plans to introduce separate healthcare legislation.

The White House official conceded that some conservative concerns about the bill won’t be addressed, noting “the nature of legislative negotiation.”

Amid backlash from conservatives over the bill, two White House staffers, counselor Kellyanne Conway and conservative liaison Paul Teller, attended coalition meetings with conservative groups on Wednesday, a source with direct knowledge of the meetings told The Daily Caller.

Teller and Vice President Pence staffer Sarah Makin attended the Weyrich Lunch, a weekly off-the-record conservative strategy meeting, while Conway attended Americans for Tax Reform’s weekly center-right coalition meeting.

The White House official denied that Teller and Conway’s attendance at the meetings was meant to be any sort of “damage control” related to the healthcare bill, saying that the staffers had previously planned on attending the meetings.

Trump has personally been trying to woo skeptical conservatives — both in and out of office — into supporting the bill.

Trump and a handful of White House staffers — including Conway, chief of staff Reince Preibus and chief strategist Steve Bannon — met Wednesday night with leaders of conservative groups about the healthcare bill.

The meeting was attended by leaders of the Heritage Foundation, Heritage Action for America, Americans for Prosperity, Tea Party Patriots, Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.

The president issued a tweet Thursday around noon, stating, “Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!”

Trump then hosted a bowling outing at the White House on Thursday with GOP lawmakers as part of his efforts to garner support for the bill.

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