PISCATAWAY TOWNSHIP, New Jersey — With Republicans’ health care bill in jeopardy, the White House is once again turning to a series of unrelated themed weeks to organize President Donald Trump’s schedule.
Over the next three weeks, the White House will hold events pertaining to three vaguely defined themes: “Made in America,” “American Heroes” and “American Dreams.”
Administration officials bristled at the notion that the themed weeks could distract from the debate over repealing and replacing Obamacare, one of the president’s biggest policy priorities.
“Every day and every week, in a sense, is a health care week,” a senior administration official told reporters during a briefing here. “It’s something that enormous White House and administration resources have been devoted to since day one.”
This week will include at least two events tied to the “Made in America” theme, including a “product showcase," in which American-made products from all 50 states will be brought to the White House. On Wednesday, the president will issue a proclamation on the importance of making products in America, according to White House spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferre.
Ferre declined to say whether the president would use the week to push his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to manufacture products from her fashion line in the United States instead of overseas. “We’ll get back to you on that,” she said.
A Friday story in The Washington Post showed that the fashion line manufactures its products in foreign factories.
Ferre offered few details on the other two themed weeks on the schedule, though she suggested the “American Heroes” week will include military veterans.
She also declined to say whether the president made calls to senators over the weekend on the health care bill. “The president has been monitoring what’s going on with health care and he and his staff have been involved with what’s going on in the senate,” she said.
Asked for a reaction to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to “defer” a vote on the health care bill amid Sen. John McCain’s surgery, Ferre said simply, “We wish Sen. McCain a speedy recovery.”
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and other senior administration officials began organizing themed weeks in early May amid concerns that the president’s public schedule lacked direction.
But the president has consistently stepped on the White House’s messaging with his tweets on everything from the Russia investigation to his travel ban. Some in the White House have privately acknowledged that the weeks haven’t been as successful as they hoped. But they note that other administration’s have taken a similar approach in order to better organize past presidents’ events.
The White House’s past themed weeks — which focused on infrastructure, workforce development, technology and energy — have faced mockery on social media, with the president’s critics noting that major news events like former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before Congress have largely overshadowed the administration’s efforts.