President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to the White House on May 25, 2018 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA)

Trump to sign measures to help terminal patients, veterans

May 25, 2018 - 3:03 pm


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump intends to sign separate measures in the coming weeks to give people with deadly diseases access to experimental treatments and to provide veterans greater access to private medical care at taxpayer expense, the president's liaison to Congress said Friday.

White House legislative director Marc Short briefed reporters on elements of Trump's legislative agenda that he said are moving forwarding despite a thin GOP advantage in the Senate and what he said have been attempts by Democrats to obstruct the president.

On Thursday, Trump signed into law a measure that loosens key restraints the government imposed on some banks following the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession.

"These three big bills have given us a chance to reflect, not just in the last week, but on what we view as a very productive Congress," Short said, citing tax cuts the president enacted late last year, funding increases for the military and Senate confirmation of the president's judicial nominees.

Short said the White House expects the House to pass a farm bill in June and then work with the Senate to get a final bill to the president before the end of the legislative session. A House vote last week on the bill was scuttled over an unrelated, intraparty dispute over immigration legislation.

Another goal, Short said, is for Congress to pass the individual bills that fund government departments and agencies by the end of the federal budget year on Sept. 30.

"I think there's a narrative that oftentimes, in the midst of a midterm election cycle, that Congress looks to slow down its activity, as they're anxious to get back to campaign," Short said. "But we still have an ambitious agenda ahead this summer on legislation specifically to the farm bill, as well as a request to get appropriations bills completed on time."

Trump endorsed so-called Right to Try legislation in his State of the Union address in January. Under the measure, people with life-threatening conditions who have exhausted their treatment options would be able to try remedies not yet in pharmacies. Supporters say hundreds of thousands of people would be helped. Trump plans to sign the bill next week, Short said.

Congress delivered Trump another victory by voting this week to expand private care for veterans as an alternative to the troubled Veterans Affairs health system.

The sweeping measure, which Trump plans to sign soon, would allow veterans to see private doctors when they do not receive the treatment they expected, with approval from a Veterans Affairs health provider. Veterans could see a private doctor after they have waited a long time to see a VA doctor or if VA medical centers do not provide the services they need.

Short said the White House would unveil toward the end of the summer details on a second round of tax cuts officials have been working on with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas. One of the priorities is to make permanent the tax cuts for individuals that were included in the legislation Trump signed in December.

Corporate tax cuts were permanent in that measure, while the reductions in personal income tax rates are temporary and scheduled to expire in 2026.
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