Trump Offers Olive Branch to Democrats
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's aides opened the door to working with moderate Democrats on health care and other issues while Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quickly offered to find common ground with Trump for repairing former President Barack Obama's health care law.
Schumer said Sunday that Trump must be willing to drop attempts to repeal his predecessor's signature achievement, warning that Trump was destined to "lose again" on other parts of his agenda if he remained beholden to conservative Republicans.
Trump initially focused the blame for the failure on Democrats and predicted a dire future for the current law. But on Sunday he turned his criticism toward conservative lawmakers for the failure of the Republican bill, complaining on Twitter: "Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!"
The Freedom Caucus is a hard-right group of more than 30 GOP House members who were largely responsible for blocking the bill to undo the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." The bill was pulled from the House floor Friday in a humiliating political defeat for the president, having lacked support from conservative Republicans, some moderate Republicans and Democrats.
In additional fallout from the jarring setback, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, said he was leaving the caucus. Poe tweeted Friday that some lawmakers "would've voted against the 10 Commandments."
"We must come together to find solutions to move this country forward," Poe said Sunday in a written statement. "Saying 'no' is easy, leading is hard but that is what we were elected to do."
On Sunday, Trump aides made clear that the president could seek support from moderate Democrats on upcoming legislative battles ranging from the budget and tax cuts to health care, leaving open the possibility he could revisit health care legislation. Whether he would work to repair Obama's law was a big question.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus scolded conservative Republicans, explaining that Trump had felt "disappointed" with a "number of people he thought were loyal to him that weren't."
"It's time for the party to start governing," Priebus said. "I think it's time for our folks to come together, and I also think it's time to potentially get a few moderate Democrats on board as well."
As he ponders his next steps, Trump faces decisions on whether to back administrative changes to fix Obama's health care law or undermine it as prices for insurance plans rise in many markets. Over the weekend, the president tweeted a promise of achieving a "great healthcare plan" because Obamacare will "explode."
Priebus did not answer directly regarding Trump's choice, saying that fixes to the health law will have to come legislatively and he wants to ensure "people don't get left behind."
"I don't think the president is closing the door on anything," he said.