White House looks to bounce back after health care loss


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Regrouping after a rocky few weeks, the White House declared Monday that President Donald Trump doesn’t consider the health care battle to be over, suggesting he may turn to Democrats to help him overhaul the system after his own party rejected his proposal.

The sudden interest in bipartisanship is a shift for a president who has spent months mocking Democratic leaders as inept. And Democrats indicated they have no interest if his intent is still to dismantle “Obamacare.”

But Trump’s interest reflects the strained state of his relations with conservatives in his party and his search for a way to regain his footing after the painful withdrawal of his health care legislation Friday.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the end of health care,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday, pointing to “a series of fits and starts” that marked the process that led to passage of President Barack Obama’s health care law, in 2010.

Trump’s failure to win the votes to pass his bill has prompted the new president to rethink how he intends to promote his agenda in Congress.

White House officials are signaling a renewed focus on job creation, taxes and the administration’s push to win confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a bright spot for the president. House Speaker Paul Ryan huddled at the White House with Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus to discuss the legislative agenda, a Ryan spokesman said.

Yet the rosy notion of Democratic cooperation glosses over recent history.

Trump is viewed with broad contempt among the party’s base. Before his inauguration, the incoming president called Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer the “head clown” in tweets about the health care law.

Schumer said in light of the withdrawal of the House bill the president should no longer attempt to undermine the Obama law. “He’s in charge, people want him to make their lives better, not make them worse because of some political anger or vendetta,” he said.

In the meantime, lawmakers face the possibility of a partial government shutdown April 29 unless Republicans and Democrats can manage to pass a federal spending bill or provide an extension of current funding levels.

Trump had initially blamed Democrats for the health care measure’s failure, predicting an eventual collapse of the law. But he later acknowledged a more widely held view: that the bill was undone by hard-line conservatives of the House Freedom Caucus, who refused to back a measure they said did not go far enough in repealing the current law.

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