President Trump has invited Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to the White House on Wednesday evening, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, but she dismissed the notion that the president has found Democrats to be better friends than members of his own party.
“The president is a Republican,” Sanders said.
She claimed that Trump's willingness to work across the aisle, as with a short-term deal last week to extend government funding and raise the debt limit, represents nothing more than a desire to get things done.
“More and more, we're trying to work things out together,” Trump said as he welcomed a bipartisan group of House members to the White House on Wednesday afternoon.
Cooperation is good for both parties, Trump said. He listed taxes, infrastructure repair and business revitalization — “and probably a little bit of health care” — as areas of discussion and possible cooperation. He also said he would discuss with Democrats a potential bipartisan legislative solution for young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
“When we set aside our differences, and it's amazing sometimes how little our differences are, we put our country and the citizens of our country first,” Trump said at the start of the meeting with House members.
The separate session with Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Pelosi (D-Calif.) will focus on taxes and other legislative priorities, Trump said.
“I'm a conservative, and I'm not skeptical,” Trump said when asked about conservative queasiness about his willingness to strike deals with Democrats. “If we can do things in a bipartisan manner, that will be great,” he said.
“And if it doesn't work out, hopefully we'll be able to do it anyway as Republicans,” he added.
Trump spoke shortly after Sanders had answered several questions about the president's outreach to Schumer and Pelosi, both of whom he had previously ridiculed as ineffective “clowns.”
“I think it's less about him needing them but … more about the president wanting to work with them and wanting to help move this country forward,” Sanders said at a White House news briefing.
“We've got a very ambitious legislative agenda for this fall, and the president wants to work with anybody that wants to move America forward,” Sanders said. “And if they're willing to do that, sit down, be part of that conversation on both tax cuts and tax reform, responsible immigration reform, then the president certainly welcomes those conversations.”