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Trump White House sends mixed signals on House health bill

U.S.+President+Donald+J.+Trump+walks+back+to+the+Oval+Office+as+he+returns+to+the+White+House+on+March+2%2C+2017+in+Washington%2C+D.C.+%28Olivier+Douliery%2FAbaca+Press%2FTNS%29
U.S. President Donald J. Trump walks back to the Oval Office as he returns to the White House on March 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

U.S. President Donald J. Trump walks back to the Oval Office as he returns to the White House on March 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

TNS

TNS

U.S. President Donald J. Trump walks back to the Oval Office as he returns to the White House on March 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

By John T. Bennett | CQ-Roll Call

WASHINGTON — With a single word — “our” — in a single tweet, President Donald Trump appeared to embrace a House GOP-crafted bill that would replace the 2010 health care law. But it also was the latest example of the administration’s mixed signals about the House measure.

Trump, as he often does, took to his preferred method of communication, during the 7 a.m. hour Tuesday. He started by taking another swipe at his predecessor, Barack Obama, tweeting that the 44th president returned 122 “vicious” Guantanamo Bay terrorism detainees back “to the battlefield,” dubbing it “just another terrible decision.”

But Trump wasn’t finished, and made news — and likely made some top House GOP leaders breathe a bit a easier — with his next tweet. The president wrote that “our wonderful” bill that would replace Obama’s signature domestic achievement has been released for “review and negotiation.”

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The White House, however, was less enthusiastic about the House measure in an official statement released shortly after the bill was unveiled Monday evening.

“Obamacare has proven to be a disaster with fewer options, inferior care, and skyrocketing costs that are crushing small business and families across America,” press secretary Sean Spicer said in the statement, oddly released to that day’s press pool rather than blasted out via the White House’s media email list.

“Today marks an important step toward restoring healthcare choices and affordability back to the American people,” Spicer said. “President Trump looks forward to working with both Chambers of Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

With the bill already received skeptically by Republicans in the Senate, White House officials could be seeking to keep a little distance between the president and what is not yet a sure-to-pass measure that is riling up town hall participants and not polling that well.

The differing tones marked the latest vacillation on the House bill by the administration, which at times has been eager to attach itself to what Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., and Co. have been working on while at other times signaling the president might release his own Affordable Care Act replacement plan.

For instance, on Monday, Spicer, during an off-camera “gaggle,” told reporters the Republican health care push has been a “joint effort.” But on Feb. 22, Trump’s top spokesman left the door open for Trump to roll out his own plan — no matter what lawmakers do. That day, Spicer even referred to “the president’s plan” when discussing how the administration intends to achieve one of its top campaign goals.

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(c)2017 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Visit CQ Roll Call at www.rollcall.com

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