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United States

White House signals turn toward Democrats for next legislative hurdle

The Trump administration has voiced willingness to work with "moderate Democrats" after a defeat on health care. Democratic leaders have urged the White House to reject conservative hard-liners if it wants their support.

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Americans react to failure of health care bill

After a major defeat on US health care legislation, the White House has raised the prospect of working with moderate Democrats on future legislation, including tax reform.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Sunday told Fox News that US President Donald Trump felt disappointed by a "number of people he thought were loyal to him that weren't" after legislation to replace the Affordable Health Care Act was pulled ahead of a vote.

House Speaker Paul Ryan had withdrawn the bill after failing to gain enough votes for it to pass. Republican lawmakers and White House officials blamed some 30 lawmakers of the hard-line Freedom Caucus for the legislation's failure, along with Democrats.

"I think it's more or less a warning that we're willing to talk to anyone. We always have been, and I think more so now than ever," 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," he added.

Using his preferred social media platform, Trump accused the Freedom Caucus of undermining White House-backed legislation.

"Democrats are smiling in DC that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club for Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood and (Obamacare)," he wrote in a tweet, referring to two conservative groups.

Both sides of the aisle?

Mark Meadows, a Republican lawmaker and chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said he regretted not spending more time with moderate Republicans and Democrats in order "to find some consensus."

Meadows added that he now hopes to work with both sides of the aisle to deliver Trump the votes required for his legislative agenda.

However, the Trump administration faces an uphill battle on reforming the tax code, in part due to the legislative failure of the "American Health Care Act."

Trump intended to offset tax cuts with anticipated savings from the health care bill. The bill's failure is likely to dampen efforts to invest $1 trillion (920 billion euros) on roads and infrastructure. Trump campaigned on making significant investments in bolstering basic US infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on Trump to reject the Freedom Caucus and start working with Democratic lawmakers.

"If he changes, he could have a different presidency," Schumer told American broadcaster ABC. "He's going to have to tell them he can't work with (the Freedom Caucus), and we'll certainly look at his proposals. But it's going to be guided on our values."

ls/gsw (Reuters, AP)

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