White House press secretary Sean Spicer signaled Monday that President Donald Trump was open to working with Democrats on major legislation moving forward, despite his antagonism toward the party in the past.
Spicer was asked during his daily press briefing what Democrats stood to gain from working with Trump, who said after the failure of a Republican bill to replace Obamacare on Friday: “What would be really good with no Democrat support if the Democrats, when it will explode [sic], which it will soon, if they got together with us and did a real health care bill.”
“With Obamacare, repealing and replacing it, several of the leading Democrats came out from the get-go and said we have no interest in doing that,” Spicer said. “So there’s a point at which both parties can look back and figure out whether or not it’s worth engaging.”
“I think the President, as I mentioned, is eager to get to 218 on a lot of his initiatives,” he continued. “Whether it’s tax reform, infrastructure, there are a lot of things. I think that he is 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 the American people, then he’s gonna work with them.”
Spicer mentioned a recent meeting between Trump and the Congressional Black Caucus, in which the group discussed small business lending and education, among other things.
“There are things that he is willing to engage individuals with, or groups or caucuses, to get to 218 and further advance his agenda,” Spicer said. “So it’s not about undermining anybody. It’s about moving the agenda forward and getting things done.”
Spicer has spoken in favor of Democratic participation before, despite Republicans’ control of both congressional chambers: After House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced the American Health Care Act, the GOP’s bill to replace Obamacare, Spicer said during a briefing that the bill would follow “regular order,” including being open to input and amendments from Democrats at the committee level.
The Republican chair of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) later remarked, referring to Spicer’s promise: “I will just point blank say that I would encourage Mr. Spicer, if he thinks he’s going to start talking about my business, to give me a darn call. I try not to get in his business, and I don’t appreciate him getting in my business.”
“I think, you know, as was pointed out, there was a level of disappointment that he expressed on Friday,” Spicer added later Monday, referring to Ryan. “He wants to get things done if people want to work together. I think what this event on Friday did was frankly draw more people into the process, to say, ‘Okay, let’s figure out if we can actually come together with some consensus ideas, to get to 218, whether or not they come from one side of the aisle or the other, to pass this bill and make a better system.’”