Health and Science

Take Trump at his word — pass GOP health bill or Obamacare stays, says White House budget director Mulvaney

Mulvaney: Trump done negotiating, wants vote today
Mulvaney: Trump done negotiating, wants vote today

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told CNBC on Friday that President Donald Trump is indeed done negotiating on the House GOP's Obamacare replacement bill.

Mulvaney also said he's not sure whether Trump has enough votes for passage. But he added: "He's tired of the drawn out negotiations. He's tired of folks always coming up with better ideas, and nitpicking the bill as it is."

"This is not a politician. This is a businessman. And he thinks the time has come to a vote," Mulvaney said.

There may still be some jockeying around the edges on Capitol Hill to try to secure votes, which would be OK, as long as the underlying legislation remains unchanged, Mulvaney said on "Squawk Box." The bottom line, he argued, "The president has his offer on the table."

Mulvaney, formerly a congressman from South Carolina and a Freedom Caucus member, said Trump's ultimatum for a House vote Friday was directed at all House Republicans.

No one group, such as the Freedom Caucus, was being singled out, he said.

The House vote was postponed Thursday after Republican leaders failed to rally enough support to pass the bill because of a rebellion by the conservative Freedom Caucus and moderate Republicans. Trump has demanded the House approve the plan on Friday or leave Obamacare in place.

Many members of the Freedom Caucus don't believe the GOP health bill goes far enough to eradicate Obamacare's framework.

One of them, Rep. Mo Brooks, told CNBC in a separate interview on Friday he's going to vote "no" on what he calls the largest welfare program ever proposed in Republican history. The Alabama Republican wants a "clean repeal" of Obamacare.

Mulvaney said the president wants to repeal and replace, so a "pure repeal" is off the table. He added that getting the votes for passage is the job of House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy.

Mulvaney warned that the president should be taken at his word that he's ready to let Obamacare stand if the GOP health-care bill fails. Trump is prepared to move on to other legislative priorities such as tax cuts for individuals and corporations and updating the nation's infrastructure systems, he said.

"He has other things he wants to do. Impatient is not the right word. Busy would be the right way to describe this president," Mulvaney said. "He doesn't want to spend the time for the next two, four, six, eight months, whatever it would take. That's what it would take if you let the House go about its own business."

Trump also took to lobbying on Friday, on Twitter:

After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!

The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed optimism about passage.

"I'm optimistic it's going to pass. First of all health care and tax reform are two very different things. What I would say health care is a very very complicated issue," Mnuchin said at a Washington event.

There's been concern about whether a failure of the Obamacare replacement would make the rest of the Trump's agenda harder to get through Congress.

But Mnuchin said he's looking to get "comprehensive" tax reform done on Capitol Hill by the August recess.