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Despite failing to rally enough Republican support for his bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, House Speaker Paul Ryan says he would rather not see President Trump reach across the aisle to Democrats on health care.
“I don’t want that to happen,” Ryan said in an interview that aired on “CBS This Morning” on Thursday. “About 90 percent of our members are for this bill. We’re not going to give up after seven years of dealing with this, after running on a plan all of last year, translating that plan into legislation, which is what this is.”
The Wisconsin congressman called the health care fail a “very painful growing pain” for the GOP.
“We had been an opposition party for 10 years,” Ryan said. “And I’ve been long saying, if we’re going to be successful, deliver for the American people, improve people’s lives, we’ve got to become a proposition governing party.”
“If we don’t do this, then he’ll just go work with Democrats to try and change Obamacare, and that’s hardly a conservative thing,” Ryan added. “This is a can-do president, who’s a business guy, and he wants to get things done. I know he wants to get things done with the Republican Congress, but if this Republican Congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we’ll push the president into working with the Democrats. He’s been suggesting that as much.”
Ryan’s comments came hours after Trump told a roomful of senators that he expects lawmakers will easily be able to reach a deal on health care.
“I have no doubt that that’s going to happen very quickly — that’s such an easy one,” Trump said at a bipartisan reception for senators and their spouses at the White House Tuesday night. “We’ve all been promising — Democrat, Republican — we’ve all been promising that to the American people. So I think a lot of good things are going to happen there.”
At his weekly press conference Thursday morning, Ryan reiterated his reluctance to work with Democrats.
“Something tells me the Democrats aren’t going to help us repeal Obamacare,” Ryan said. “They’re the ones who created it in the first place.”
Ryan abruptly canceled the House vote on the Trump-backed plan, the American Health Care Act, after the speaker was unable to secure the required 216 votes for it to pass.
Speaking to reporters at the Oval Office, Trump did not blame Ryan for the bill’s crash and burn.
“He worked very hard,” Trump said on Friday shortly after Ryan pulled it. “Lots of different groups. Lots of factions, and there’s been a long history of liking and disliking within the Republican Party long before I got here. I have a great relationship with the Republican Party, but it seems like both sides like Trump. And that’s good.
“I’m not going to speak badly about anybody within the Republican Party,” Trump added. “Certainly there’s a history, but I really think Paul worked hard.”
And Trump did not initially blame the conservative House groups — like the Freedom Caucus — that refused to get in line.
Instead, Trump blamed Democrats for not helping the GOP dismantle the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law better known as Obamacare.
“We had no Democrat support,” Trump said. “I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we could do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. It’s exploding right now.”
“If [Democrats] got together with us, and got us a real health care bill, I’d be totally OK with that,” the president continued. “The losers are [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer, because they own Obamacare. They 100 percent own it.”
But just two days later, the president pointed his Twitter finger at the Freedom Caucus, a hard-line conservative House group founded just two years ago.
“Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!” Trump tweeted early Sunday.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., decried Ryan’s comments.
“We have come a long way in our country when the speaker of one party urges a president NOT to work with the other party to solve a problem,” Corker tweeted.
We have come a long way in our country when the speaker of one party urges a president NOT to work with the other party to solve a problem.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) March 30, 2017
Trump said Friday that he would move immediately to the next item on his agenda: tax reform. Ryan said that it would take some time.
“The House is the only one with a plan right now,” he said. “The White House is still working on a plan, the Senate doesn’t have a plan. So it is inconceivable that we would’ve been able to write a tax reform bill and into law before summer.”
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