Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters

September 27, 2017

Q. Have you realized that——

Alabama Republican Senate Primary Election/Health Care Reform Legislation

Q. [Inaudible]—Mitch McConnell after Luther Strange's defeat?

The President. Well, we have a man who is going to be a great Senator, and I'm very happy with that. I spoke to him last night. I never met him. I never spoke to him. I'm very happy with him. And I have to say, Luther came a long way from the time I endorsed him, and he ran a good race. But Roy ran a really great race. And I know what they did was—[inaudible]—they used it very much in the campaign, but he works hard. And I'm sure things will work out.

I just wanted to say, though, on health care, we have the votes for health care. We have one Senator that's in the hospital. He can't vote because he's in the hospital.

Q. You're talking about Cochran?

The President. He can't vote because he's in the hospital. We have two other votes that are coming, and we will have them. But the problem is, we can't have them by Friday, because of reconciliation ends on Friday.

Q. So what do you do?

The President. So we'll have to do it in January or February. But I feel we have the votes. I'm almost certain we have the votes. But with one man in the hospital, we cannot display that we have them. Plus, some people want to go through a process just to make themselves feel better, that's okay.

Q. What do you mean? What do you mean by that? Is Mitch McConnell in trouble?

Environmental Protection Agency's Construction of Soundproof Communications Booth

Q. Do you have concerns about how your aides are spending taxpayer money on the phone booth at the EPA?

The President. We're talking about health care. We're talking about——

Q. Mr. President——

Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas E. Price

Q. What about—Tom Price spent a lot of money on that charter plane. Is that cool?

The President. I was looking into it, and I will look into it. And I will tell you, personally, I'm not happy about it. I am not happy about it.

Q. Are you going to fire him?

Q. What are you going to do about it, Mr. President?

The President. I'm going to look at it. I am not happy about it, and I let him know it. Q. Do you have confidence in Secretary Price?

Senate Majority Leader A. Mitchell McConnell/Tax Reform/Health Care Reform Legislation

Q. What about Mitch McConnell? Is he in trouble?

The President. We'll have to—you'll have to ask Senators about that. So you're going to have to ask Senators.

So here's what I'm just saying. We're going right now to Indiana. We're going to introduce a tax plan that's the largest tax cut, essentially, in the history of our country. It's going to be something special. You already know some of the numbers. We're going to give you some of the additional numbers.

But on health care, we have the votes. We can't do it now because we have somebody in a hospital. And we have great respect for that gentleman, by the way. He's been a—he's a fantastic man.

Health Care Reform Legislation

Q. But he was a "yes."

The President. We are going to—he was a "yes," that's right.

Q. So why does it matter? I mean, his being there wouldn't change the numbers.

The President. Because he has to come here and vote.

Q. Which Senator are you referring to?

The President. He can't come here and vote.

Q. [Inaudible]—have any votes, sir?

The President. In other words, he can't come here and vote because he's in the hospital.

Q. Who is in the hospital, sir?

Health Care Reform Legislation

Q. Just to be clear, you're talking about Cochran, right?

The President. Let me just say—yes. He's in the hospital.

So we're going to do it in January or February because, as you know, we have the votes, but we can't go longer than Friday. What we're going to do is, we will do the block grants; we will do the health care. We will get a longer process going for the couple of people that did want to see more process, even though they're a "yes" vote.

But very importantly, I am also—during this period of a couple of months, I'm also going to meet with Democrats, and I will see if I can get a health care plan that's even better. So I will negotiate with Democrats, but from the Republican standpoint, we have the votes. We'll vote in January, February, or March.

Q. Are you confident, Mr. President——?

Executive Action on Health Care Reform

Q. Are you considering an Executive order? The President. I am considering an Executive order on associations, and that will take care of a tremendous number of people with regard to health care. And I'll probably be signing a very major Executive order where people can go out, cross State lines, do lots of things, and buy their own health care. And that will be probably signed next week. It's being finished now. It's going to cover a lot of territory and a lot of people, millions of people.

Q. May I ask a question about the travel ban?

Q. [Inaudible]—Rand Paul or Susan Collins?

The President. John [John Roberts, Fox News], go ahead.

Health Care Reform Legislation

Q. Are you confident, sir, that Mitch McConnell can get health care across the finish line?

The President. I think we're there now, John. I'll be honest. You look at the statement put out by Alaska, by—right, you saw that—by Lisa. You look at the other couple of statements. You know, we're only one off, maybe two. But we can't vote now, John—you probably didn't hear me, because, as you know——

Q. I did hear you. I heard you.

The President. ——one of our "yes" votes is in the hospital. I can't take him out of the hospital.

Senate Majority Leader A. Mitchell McConnell

Q. I'm just wondering—there's lots of us here just wondering—if you have confidence in Senator McConnell?

The President. I do have confidence in him, yes. I do have confidence in him.

Q. Are you referring to Senator Cochran?

Q. Even though he couldn't get health care done—[inaudible]?

The President. But it's really not up to me, it's up to the Senate. But I do have confidence in him.

Q. Mr. President, what is your message——

The President. And I will say we used him in the race—and I was very honored by the way I was treated in the race. But they used him in the race. John, they used him in the race.

Tax Reform

Q. On taxes, Mr. President, on tax reform, does your plan help the wealthy too much? There's criticism that it gives you tax breaks.

The President. My plan is for the working people, and my plan is for jobs.

Q. So you wouldn't benefit under your tax plan?

The President. No, I don't benefit. I don't benefit.

Q. You don't think rich people benefit?

The President. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, there's no—I think there's very little benefit for people of wealth. Q. The estate tax repeal is a benefit to people of wealth.

The President. The estate taxes is one of things, and that's, if you look at, for farmers and people with small businesses.

Republican Senatorial Candidate Roy S. Moore of Alabama

Q. Mr. President, what do you say to the things that Roy Moore has said in the past. He thinks it's wrong to be gay, he thinks that there's a Muslim Member of Congress who doesn't deserve to have that seat; he used the phrases "reds and yellows" to talk about people of ethnicity.

The President. I don't see it, but we'll talk to you about that at a different time. So here's the point——

Health Care Reform Legislation

Q. Do you worry that he's so incendiary, that he's such a firebrand that says these controversial things? Do you worry about that?

The President. The point is this: Health care, we have it; we have the votes. Because of reconciliation we have to wait until January, February, or March, which we'll do. But in the meantime, I will negotiate with Democrats——

Q. Who?

The President. ——to see if we can make a bipartisan bill.

Q. Which Democrats?

The President. Yes, John.

Tax Reform

Q. One more on tax cuts, sir. Is the 20 percent corporate rate a red line for you? I know you say you don't do red lines?

The President. Very much a red line.

Q. What about 15 percent?

The President. In fact, I wanted to start at 15 so that we got 20. It's just—the numbers were—15 was so low we didn't take in the revenue. But I wanted 15, so we got 20—20 is my number. So I'm not negotiating that number.

Q. May I ask a question about——

The President. I really—I am not going to negotiate. That's the number I wanted to get to. I wanted to start at 15 to get there. We really had to start there because of the complexity of the numbers, but 20 is a perfect number.

Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico

Q. On Puerto Rico, Mr. President. Why not lift the Jones Act like you did in Texas and Florida?

The President. Well, we're thinking about that, but we have a lot of shippers and a lot of people and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don't want the Jones Act lifted. And we have a lot of ships out there right now. And I will tell you, the Governor was very generous yesterday with his statement, and so was the mayor of San Juan, very, very generous with their statements.

Q. But she's begging for help?

The President. So we have a lot people, and I'm going there on Tuesday, as you probably have heard.

And Puerto Rico is a very difficult situation. I mean, that place was just destroyed. That's not a question of, gee, let's dry up the water, let's do this or that. I mean, that place was flattened. That is a really tough situation. I feel so bad for those people.

Foreign Travel to the U.S.

Q. May I ask you a question about the updated travel ban?

The President. Yes.

Q. First of all, can you explain to us why Sudan was removed? And second of all, how does the travel ban work in North Korea that doesn't allow their people out of the country?

The President. Well, the people—yes, the people allowed—certain countries—but we can add countries very easily, and we can take countries away.

Q. What did Sudan do right?

The President. And as far as the travel ban is concerned, whatever it is, I want the toughest travel ban you can have.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. So I'll see you in Indiana. We're going to go over some more points that have not been talked about. Are you all going? Is everyone going?

Q. No, sir, I don't have a pass.

Q. If you invite us. Is there room? Is there room for us?

National Football League National Anthem Controversy

Q. Mr. President, can I ask one more on the NFL story, because I know this is something you've been talking about a lot. You said, back during Charlottesville, that those folks had the right to protest. Why doesn't Colin Kaepernick have his First Amendment rights?

The President. I think the NFL is in a box. I think they're in a really bad box. You look at what's happening with their ratings. You look at what's going—I mean, frankly, the only thing that's doing well in the NFL is the pregame, because everybody wants to see what's going on.

Q. But I'm asking about you and the First Amendment.

The President. The NFL is in a very bad box. You cannot have people disrespecting our national anthem, our flag, or our country, and that's what they're doing. And in my opinion, the NFL has to change——

Q. Do you have a problem with the First Amendment?

The President. ——or you know what's going to happen? Their business is going to go to hell.

Q. The First Amendment, do you uphold their First Amendment?

The President. Okay?

Q. Are there "very fine people" on the side of the NFL, Mr. President? Are there "very fine people" on the side of the NFL?

National Football League/First Amendment

Q. Mr. President, do you think that undermines the First Amendment at all——

The President. No, not at all. No, no.

Q. ——to basically rule that you're not allowed to—[inaudible]?

The President. We have to respect our national anthem. We have to respect our country, and they're not respecting our country. And most importantly, the fans agree with me. I mean, largely, the fans agree.

But we have to show total respect for our national anthem, for our flag, for our country, we have to do it. And you can—there are plenty of places, and there are plenty—personally, when they're protesting during a football game, I think they can find better places. But they cannot do it during the national anthem.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas E. Price

Q. Mr. President, do you still have confidence in Secretary Price?

The President. I am going to see. I'm looking at that very closely. I am not happy with it. I will tell you, I am not happy with it.

Q. Is it possible you'd fire him? Maybe?

Q. Would you fire him, sir?

The President. We'll see.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:44 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Sens. Luther J. Strange III and Lisa A. Murkowski; Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló Nevares of Puerto Rico; and Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto of San Juan, PR. Reporters referred to Sens. Randal H. Paul and Susan M. Collins; Rep. Keith Ellison; and Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback, National Football League's San Francisco 49ers.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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