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Schumer Seizes on Trump Offer          03/27 06:05

   President Donald Trump's aides opened the door to working with moderate 
Democrats on health care and other issues while Senate Democratic leader Chuck 
Schumer quickly offered to find common ground with Trump for repairing former 
President Barack Obama's health care law.

   WASHINGTON (AP) --- President Donald Trump's aides opened the door to 
working with moderate Democrats on health care and other issues while Senate 
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quickly offered to find common ground with 
Trump for repairing former President Barack Obama's health care law.

   Schumer said Sunday that Trump must be willing to drop attempts to repeal 
his predecessor's signature achievement, warning that Trump was destined to 
"lose again" on other parts of his agenda if he remained beholden to 
conservative Republicans.

   Trump initially focused the blame for the failure on Democrats and predicted 
a dire future for the current law. But on Sunday he turned his criticism toward 
conservative lawmakers for the failure of the Republican bill, complaining on 
Twitter: "Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help 
of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!"

   The Freedom Caucus is a hard-right group of more than 30 GOP House members 
who were largely responsible for blocking the bill to undo the Affordable Care 
Act, or "Obamacare." The bill was pulled from the House floor Friday in a 
humiliating political defeat for the president, having lacked support from 
conservative Republicans, some moderate Republicans and Democrats.

   In additional fallout from the jarring setback, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, said 
he was leaving the caucus. Poe tweeted Friday that some lawmakers "would've 
voted against the 10 Commandments."

   "We must come together to find solutions to move this country forward," Poe 
said Sunday in a written statement. "Saying 'no' is easy, leading is hard but 
that is what we were elected to do."

   On Sunday, Trump aides made clear that the president could seek support from 
moderate Democrats on upcoming legislative battles ranging from the budget and 
tax cuts to health care, leaving open the possibility he could revisit health 
care legislation. Whether he would work to repair Obama's law was a big 
question.

   White House chief of staff Reince Priebus scolded conservative Republicans, 
explaining that Trump had felt "disappointed" with a "number of people he 
thought were loyal to him that weren't."

   "It's time for the party to start governing," Priebus said. "I think it's 
time for our folks to come together, and I also think it's time to potentially 
get a few moderate Democrats on board as well."

   As he ponders his next steps, Trump faces decisions on whether to back 
administrative changes to fix Obama's health care law or undermine it as prices 
for insurance plans rise in many markets. Over the weekend, the president 
tweeted a promise of achieving a "great healthcare plan" because Obamacare will 
"explode."

   Priebus did not answer directly regarding Trump's choice, saying that fixes 
to the health law will have to come legislatively and he wants to ensure 
"people don't get left behind."

   "I don't think the president is closing the door on anything," he said.

   Schumer, a New York Democrat, suggested that "if he changes, he could have a 
different presidency."

   "But he's going to have to tell the Freedom Caucus and the hard-right 
special wealthy interests who are dominating his presidency ... he can't work 
with them, and we'll certainly look at his proposals," Schumer said.

   Their comments came after another day of finger-pointing among Republicans, 
both subtle and otherwise. On Saturday, Trump urged Americans in a tweet to 
watch Judge Jeanine Pirro's program on Fox News that night. She led her show by 
calling for House Speaker Paul Ryan to resign, blaming him for the defeat of 
the bill in the Republican-controlled chamber.

   Priebus described the two events as "coincidental," insisting that Trump was 
helping out a friend by plugging her show and no "preplanning" occurred.

   "He doesn't blame Paul Ryan," Priebus said. "In fact, he thought Paul Ryan 
worked really hard. He enjoys his relationship with Paul Ryan, thinks that Paul 
Ryan is a great speaker of the House."

   Priebus said Trump was looking ahead for now at debate over the budget and a 
tax plan, which he said would include a border adjustment tax and middle-class 
tax cuts.

   "It's more or less a warning shot that we are willing to talk to anyone. We 
always have been," he said. "I think more so now than ever, it's time for both 
parties to come together and get to real reforms in this country."

   Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the Freedom Caucus, acknowledged he 
was doing a lot of "self-critiquing" after the health care defeat. He insisted 
the GOP overhaul effort was not over and that he regretted not spending more 
time with moderate Republicans and Democrats "to find some consensus."

   Priebus spoke on "Fox News Sunday," and Schumer and Meadows appeared on 
ABC's "This Week."


(KA)

 
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