President Trump is serious about working with Democrats to move his agenda forward and has already fielded phone calls from liberal lawmakers about healthcare reform, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.
“Starting Friday afternoon through late yesterday, [Trump] has received a number of calls, as well as other members of the senior staff that have been working on healthcare, from members of both sides saying that they would like to work together, offer up ideas and have suggestions about how to come to resolution on this and get to a House vote on this,” Spicer said.
But Spicer also hit Democrats, saying they refused to come to the negotiating table on healthcare.
“Some of the Democrats who now say they were not involved early on in the process … they wanted nothing to do with this process, no way they would engage in any discussion of repeal,” Spicer said. “I think it is a two-way street. I think we’ve been willing to listen to folks and their ideas, and the president’s advice is weak can come up with a resolution on her way to move forward, we will certainly entertain that.”
Spicer cited a meeting Trump held last week with members of the Congressional Black Caucus on infrastructure, small business lending and education as an example of the president’s willingness to listen to Democrats.
“The president is eager to get to 218 [votes in the House] on a lot of his initiatives, whether its tax reform or infrastructure,” Spicer said. “There’s a lot of things and I think he’s going to be willing to listen to other voices on the other side to figure out if people want to work with him to get these big things done to make Washington work to enhance the lives of American people then he’s going to work with them.”
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Friday cancelled a planned vote on the GOP’s healthcare bill in the face of mounting opposition from Republican lawmakers.
The realization that the White House cannot count on GOP support for its agenda has Trump looking across the aisle for new allies. But there is deep skepticism among the political class that Trump will have success in courting Democrats, who are under pressure from liberal grassroots activists to oppose his agenda.
A reporter on Monday asked Spicer if Trump’s outreach would “require a serious change of course,” considering his past attacks against Democratic leaders. Trump, for example has called Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) a “clown.”
Spicer acknowledged that it would require a new approach.
“To some degree, sure,” Spicer said. “I think the president talked about that. We learned a lot through this process. We are obviously looking at ways that we can improve not only how we handled healthcare but other things, how we do everything … One of the traits of a successful organization is always examining how you do things. But I think there has been a lot of outreach from members of both sides with ideas the president is willing to listen to these individuals, and if they can come to resolution on a way forward, then obviously we are willing to listen and move forward.