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Trump says he hopes Senate healthcare bill has 'heart'

 (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

As Senate Republicans prepare to unveil their version of an Obamacare alternative, President Trump expressed his hope for a final plan “with heart.”

“I can’t guarantee anything, but I hope we’re going to surprise you with a really good plan,” Trump said at a campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday night.

The White House said administration officials have been fully briefed on the details of a Senate healthcare bill that has been drafted with unprecedented secrecy, in advance of its planned release early Thursday. The Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, has been struggling behind closed doors to find a compromise that can get near-unanimous support from the Republican caucus, given that Democrats are united in opposition to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

"We basically can’t lose anybody," Trump conceded.

The president's talk of a bill with heart follows reports that he has privately called the House's healthcare bill "mean" --  it would cause an estimated 23 million people to lose insurance coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office  -- despite the fact that he celebrated its passage in the Rose Garden with dozens of House Republicans.

At the Iowa rally, the president said he wanted more money for the health proposal, presumably to help cover more uninsured Americans. But as usual he did not offer any policy details.

Instead, he attacked Democrats as obstructionists.

“If we went and got the single greatest healthcare plan in the history of the world, we would not get one Democrat vote,” Trump said.

“It would be a beautiful, beautiful thing if we could get together as two parties that love our country and come up with that great healthcare, and come up with that great tax deal for our people,” he said.

Trump congratulated the two Republican victors in special elections Tuesday, mocking Democrats for falling short in attempts to capture GOP-held seats in the House. The White House said Republicans' wins in Georgia and South Carolina showed that Trump’s agenda was resonating with the public. The winning Republicans' margins, however, were significantly reduced from results in past elections.

“We are not going to let the same failed and tired voices in Washington keep us from delivering the change you voted for and the change that you deserve,” Trump said.

Trump clearly delighted in returning to a campaign-like setting, an arena packed with enthusiastic supporters applauding his attacks on Democrats and the media as well as his renewed calls for stricter immigration policies.

In addition to vowing to deliver on his stalled plan for a new wall on the U.S.-Mexico border — perhaps paid for in part through solar energy generation — the president said he would seek new legislation to place conditions on immigration to the United States.

“Those seeking admission to our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” he said, adding that immigrants would also have to “embrace our values.”

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