Trump Lashes Out at Republicans for Defeat of Health BillBy and
President blames the House Freedom Caucus and Club for Growth
Trump previously blamed Democrats, not fellow Republicans
President Donald Trump lashed out at Republican leaders and groups on Sunday for the defeat of the bill to repeal and replace his predecessor’s health-care law, after blaming Democrats for the loss on Friday.
In a Twitter posting to his 27 million followers, Trump criticized the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative Heritage Foundation and the free-market advocacy group Club for Growth, which opposed the bill for not going far enough to erase Obamacare, the system implemented by Democrats under President Barack Obama.
“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 said.
The criticism marked a shift for Trump, who had avoided blaming Republicans and House Speaker Paul Ryan for the defeat of the bill with no Democratic support. House leaders abruptly scrapped a planned vote on repeal Friday because not enough support materialized, largely due to the Freedom Caucus, made up of Congress’s most rebellious conservative members.
In what seemed at least initially to be another shot at a fellow Republican, Trump posted a Twitter message on Saturday urging his followers to watch Jeanine Pirro on Fox News on Saturday night. She opened her show by calling on Ryan to resign because “he failed to deliver the votes on his health-care bill.”
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday” that it was "coincidental” that Trump promoted Pirro’s show on a day she wound up calling for Ryan’s resignation. He said the president’s tweet promoting the show was just a favor to Pirro, who was a Republican political figure in New York before becoming host of "Justice with Judge Jeanine" on Fox News.
Priebus said Trump doesn’t blame Ryan for the defeat or want him to step down. Priebus also said his own job is not in jeopardy.
Defending Trump’s criticism of Republicans, Priebus said leaders “can’t be chasing the perfect all the time" and sometimes should "take the good and put it in your pocket and take the win." He said Trump is willing to give Republicans who opposed the health-care bill another chance and thinks it’s time for Republicans to come together and potentially get a few moderate Democrats to join them.
Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich, speaking on CNN’s "State of the Union," also urged his party to seek help from across the aisle.
"You cannot have major changes in major programs such as health care without including Democrats from the very beginning and asking them to be constructive," Kasich said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump never reached out to Democrats on health care and that they’ll only work with Republicans on a bill that doesn’t repeal Obamacare. He said it was “petulance” for Trump to say he’s willing to let Obamacare “explode.”
“We always said we’d work with them to improve it,” Schumer said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We just said repeal was off the table.”
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that it’s not possible to fix a broken system and that Trump will return to health care when Obamacare “breaks.” He said there’s “probably plenty of blame to go around” for the failure of the bill and that “Washington was a lot more broken than President Trump thought that it was.”
Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas said problems with the bill -- and the rush to pass it -- were to blame, not conservative Republicans.
"To release a bill that was written in secret and then expect to pass it in 18 days I just don’t think was feasible,” Cotton said on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
While Trump has said he’s ready to move on to a tax bill, Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said he is not giving up on a health-care bill and has been seeking ways to compromise during the past several days.
“To put a stake in it today would not be accurate, and nor would it be the narrative that this is a great failure for the president,” Meadows said on ABC.
Meadows also said there are no conversations happening about replacing Ryan as speaker. He said he’s willing to work with Trump on a tax bill and doesn’t think reductions have to be fully offset with spending cuts.
— With assistance by Miles Weiss