White House

White House says Trump will 'entertain' health-care ideas, defends Nunes' actions in Russia probe


White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday outlined the Trump administration's possible next steps on health-care policy and defended the House Intelligence Committee chairman's actions amid concerns about his independence from the White House.

In his daily press briefing, Spicer said any new plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act will be a "balancing act" as Republicans try to assuage concerns of stakeholders. House Republicans and President Donald Trump have said they will seek a new proposal after their first health-care legislation attempt failed last week, though they have not committed to a firm timeline.

Trump will "entertain" ideas about how to attract enough votes to get a new bill to pass, and Republicans have shown a "renewed willingness" to approve a plan, Spicer said. He added that, if some of the Democrats who sent Trump a letter asking him to work on reforming Obamacare are willing to have a "constructive conversation," the president will work with them. However, he did not explicitly say if Trump would insist on repealing the law.

Spicer also defended the conduct of Rep. Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, as he faces criticism from his Democratic colleagues for his handling of the panel's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Nunes admitted to meeting with a source on the White House grounds before claiming that he had reports that showed Trump transition team members had information "incidentally" collected by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Spicer said he did not yet have information about who let Nunes onto the White House grounds, alleging that reporters have focused too much on why Nunes was there and not enough on the contents of what he said. It is "up to the House" to determine whether the California Republican will stay on the investigation amid some Democrats' calls for him to recuse himself, Spicer said.

He added that he did not know the source of Nunes' claim.

Here are other topics Spicer addressed:

Tax reform/infrastructure: The White House spokesman said he did not yet have any estimates on the potential costs or economic effects of possible tax reform and infrastructure plans, which Trump has promised. The Trump administration has repeatedly pledged relief for middle-income taxpayers, though most analyses of potential GOP plans have said they will benefit the wealthy the most.

Paris climate accords: Spicer did not say if the administration will withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accords, which Trump criticized on the campaign trail. Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order that starts the process of rolling back some Obama-era climate rules.

Trump's Mar-a-Lago trips: Trump has "no concern" about pushback on his trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort, Spicer said. A government watchdog plans to examine Trump's travel to the Florida property, which reportedly costs taxpayers about $3 million per weekend getaway, and the security procedures there.