After failing to shepherd a health care bill through a single chamber of Congress, President Donald Trump is “eager” to have major legislation advance through the House of Representatives, press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday.
Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan suffered a political defeat at the hands of their own party last week when they pulled a Friday vote on a measure to repeal and replace Obamacare once it became clear that it lacked enough GOP support to pass.
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Trump has since blamed Democrats, despite their immediate and unanimous opposition, but signaled a willingness to work across the aisle to advance his agenda, which includes tax reform and a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
“I think there’s a point at which both parties can look back and figure out whether or not it’s worth engaging,” Spicer told reporters Monday. “I think the president, as I mentioned, is eager to get to 218 on lot of his initiatives — whether it’s tax reform, infrastructure, there’s a lot of things, and 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 pointed to the president’s meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus last week as an example of Trump’s overtures to Democrats. The caucus met with Trump on Wednesday to discuss issues affecting the African-American community.
“I think he had a great meeting with the CBC the other day, for example, where he talked about infrastructure, he talked about loans and small business lending, education,” Spicer said. “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 rejected the notion that working with Democrats would undermine Ryan’s job security as House speaker by freezing out the House Freedom Caucus, the ultra-conservative bloc of lawmakers that essentially sank the GOP’s proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare and ousted former House Speaker John Boehner.
“It’s not about undermining anybody,” Spicer said. “It’s about moving the agenda forward and getting things done.”