As the debate intensified over the GOP's proposed healthcare bill, President Donald Trump held a meeting with a number of conservative leaders and reportedly told them that he will blame the Democrats if the bill fails to make it through Congress.
In attendance were representatives from several conservative groups that have spoken out against the new proposal, including Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots, according to CNN.
After telling them that their opposition to the bill is "helping the other side," Trump reportedly adopted an optimistic tone.
"This is going to be great. You're going to make it even greater," he said, according to sources who spoke with CNN. "I'm going to work hard to get it done."
Among the matters discussed were Medicaid expansion and tax credits, both of which the tea party-aligned groups object to. While under the current proposal Medicaid would not be rolled back until 2020, some conservatives who attended the meeting requested that the date be changed to Jan. 1, 2018.
Trump and his advisers reportedly said they were "open to discussing" such a move.
There was also push back against the tax credits in the GOP plan that function to make health insurance more affordable for low-income Americans. Hardline conservatives view the tax credits as federal subsidies. But the White House refused to budge on that point.
"They counterpunched hard on that," a source told CNN.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and a former member of the House Freedom Caucus, disagreed with the other attendees and spoke out in favor of the tax credits.
"He was very defensive about it," a source said.
The president's plan for pushing through the proposal is to hold campaign-style rallies in Republican states to drum up enthusiasm for the bill.
"Trump said he will have football stadium events in states where he won by 10 to 12 points and he is going to dare people to vote against him," a source recalled.
A White House official who attended the meeting told CNN that on the whole it was productive, and that Trump is prepared to make some compromises to make sure the bill passes through Congress.
"It was a legit policy meeting -- real discussion about specifics," the official said. "The president expressed that he was open to things that could improve the bill, but was also clear that this is the vehicle -- this is the chance to repeal and replace."
In February, former House Speaker John Boehner predicted that a full repeal-and-replace of Obamacare was not going to happen, citing the inability of Republican lawmakers to see eye-to-eye on healthcare.
"In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once," Boehner said, according to Politico. "And all this happy talk that went on in November and December and January about repeal, repeal, repeal -- yeah, we'll do replace, replace -- I started laughing, because if you pass repeal without replace, first, anything that happens is your fault. You broke it."
"They’ll fix Obamacare, and I shouldn’t have called it repeal and replace because that’s not what’s going to happen," he said. "They’re basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it."