Earnest: Obama Told Dems To Engage With GOP If It Reverses On ACA Repeal

Carolyn Kaster

President Barack Obama encouraged Democrats in a meeting Wednesday to consider engaging with Republicans on the possibility of improving the Affordable Care Act if they pivot away from their hardline position on repealing the law, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

"The President believes that the country would benefit from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill actually having a conversation about ideas for strengthening and improving the Affordable Care Act," Earnest said at Wednesday's White House press briefing.

He said that most of the questions Obama took from House and Senate Democrats at the Capitol Hill huddle were related to Republicans' imminent attempt to repeal Obamacare. Earnest added that the law could be "improved."

"But that’s never the offer that Republicans have put forward. Democrats have put it forward," Earnest said. "The President himself has put forward ideas for how to strengthen and improve the program. But there’s never been a willingness on the part of Republicans to do that."

If Republicans become willing to "change their tune" and discuss adapting and improving the healthcare law, Earnest said, it would be "a conversation of an entirely different color."

"And that is a conversation that the President encouraged Democrats to consider engaging Republicans on," Earnest said. "That would require a different approach on the part of Republicans. But it’s a change in approach that President Obama would welcome."

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