President Donald Trump expressed confidence Thursday in Congress’ ability to pass both legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare and a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown next week.
He also predicted that health care legislation would pass "next week or shortly thereafter.”
Lawmakers will face a Friday deadline when they return to work Tuesday after a two-week Easter recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been adamant that Republicans will be able to work with Democrats to avoid a shutdown, but the White House has added Obamacare repeal to what was already expected to be a busy week.
Asked Thursday during a joint news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni which goal is the higher priority, Trump suggested both could be accomplished next week.
“I wanna get both,” Trump told reporters. “Are you shocked to hear that?”
Republican leaders pulled a scheduled floor vote for legislation last month to repeal and replace Obamacare. The bill, the American Health Care Act, failed to draw enough support from moderate and far-right Republicans to advance through the House. No Democrats supported it.
Despite telling reporters that the administration would move on to tax reform after the embarrassing defeat of the health care bill, Trump has indicated that health care is still the top priority. And the White House is now pushing for a floor vote next week, with the expectation that the legislative text will be released by this weekend.
“We’re doing very well on health care. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “But this is a great bill, there’s a great plan and this will be great health care. It’s evolving.”
The president also took issue with the characterization that Republicans gave up on health care after the collapse of the bill. “You know, there was never a give-up,” he argued. “The press sort of reported there was like a give-up. There’s no give-up.”
He reminded reporters that Obamacare was roughly a year-and-half-long effort, while he said he’s only had about two months to negotiate a better deal.
“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,” Trump said. “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,” he added, “I think we wanna keep the government open. Don’t you agree? So yeah, I think we’ll get both.”