After 100 days in office without passing any major legislation, US President Donald Trump faces a week with a deadline to avert a government shutdown and the possibility of progress on health care.
Trump has spent his first three months coming to terms with the slow grind of government even in a Republican-dominated capital, and watching some of his promises – from repealing the nation’s health care law to temporarily banning people from some Muslim nations – fizzle out.
Last week lawmakers sent the president a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open through Friday. Lawmakers will continue negotiating this week on a one trillion dollar package financing the government through to September 30, the end of the 2017 fiscal year. Despite a renewed White House effort push, the House did not vote last week on a revised bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Health Care Act.
After the original effort failed to win enough support from conservatives and moderates, Republicans recast the bill. The latest version would let states escape a requirement under Obama’s 2010 law that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates.
The overall legislation would cut the Medicaid program for the poor, eliminate fines for people who don’t buy insurance and provide generally skimpier subsidies. Critics have said the approach could reduce protections for people with pre-existing conditions. But during an interview with Face the Nation on CBS aired Sunday, Mr Trump said the measure has a “clause that guarantees” that people with pre-existing conditions will be covered.
He said: “Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, ‘Pre-existing is not covered.’ Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.'” During the interview, Mr Trump said that if he’s unable to renegotiate a long-standing free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, then he’ll terminate the pact.
He also spoke about tensions with North Korea. Asked about the failure of several North Korean missile tests recently, Mr Trump said he’d “rather not discuss it. But perhaps they’re just not very good missiles. But eventually, he’ll have good missiles”.
The president said he is willing to use the trade issue as leverage to get China’s help with North Korea. “Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade.” And he acknowledged the presidency is “a tough job. But I’ve had a lot of tough jobs. I’ve had things that were tougher, although I’ll let you know that better at the end of eight years. Perhaps eight years. Hopefully, eight years.”
Also this week, the president will welcome Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House. And he’ll head to New York City on Thursday where he’ll visit the USS Intrepid to mark the 75th anniversary of a Second World War naval battle. On Sunday morning, Mr Trump headed to Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. The White House did not immediately clarify whether he was holding meetings or golfing.
Mr Trump marked his 100th day in office on Saturday with a rally in Harrisburg, where he continued to pledge to cut taxes and get tough on trade deals. “We are not going to let other countries take advantage of us anymore,” he said. “From now on it’s going to be America first.”