The White House sent a warning shot to congressional Republicans that it may increase its outreach to Democrats if it can’t get the support of hard-line conservatives, a potential shift in legislative strategy that could affect drug prices, the future of a tax overhaul and budgetary priorities.
Days after the House GOP health bill collapsed due to a lack of support from Republicans, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus brought up the idea of working with Democrats multiple times, leaving little doubt that the White House intended to send a message to the hard-line Republican flank.
“This president is not going to be a partisan president,” Mr. Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.” He said that while “I think it’s time for our folks to come together, I also think it’s time to potentially get a few moderate Democrats on board as well.”
President Donald Trump could face hurdles in enacting his agenda if he can’t broaden his coalition, even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress.
The unraveling of the health bill last week calls into question how easily that broader agenda will be achieved.
Whether the Trump administration can work with Democrats remains an open question, but Mr. Trump will have two opportunities in coming months to shift his legislative strategy.
The first comes over a spending bill that will need to be passed to replace a current measure that runs through April 28. Congress and the White House will have to sort through divides over whether to increase military spending at the expense of domestic programs, a perennial fight.
The White House and Republicans have also made an overhaul of the tax code their next big legislative priority, a matter that is particularly fraught.
If Mr. Trump produces a middle-class tax cut, there could be Democratic support. But his campaign plans featured significant rate cuts for high-income households, including a repeal of the estate tax. Tax policies along those lines wouldn’t find much favor among Democrats.
“I don’t think they’re headed in the right direction,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said on ABC’s “This Week.” “They’re going to repeat the same mistake they made on Trumpcare with tax reform.”
Mr. Trump has also flashed signs of ambivalence about working with Democrats. On Saturday, he said that unified Democratic opposition was the reason the health bill was pulled, and he has also called Mr. Schumer the Democrats’ “head clown.”
The Trump administration on Sunday provided a reminder for Democrats about why they have opposed his presidency. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt told ABC’s “This Week” that on Tuesday, Mr. Trump is expected to sign an executive order to undo President Barack Obama’s plan to curb global warming.
“If anything, Democrats are feeling greater pressure from their activist base, which has tasted victory on health care and is even more convinced now in the wisdom of an outright resistance strategy,” said Brian Fallon, a longtime Democratic aide who is now the senior adviser to Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC.
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