Rep. Charlie Dent on Sunday would not deny a report that President Donald Trump told the Pennsylvania Republican that he was “destroying the Republican Party.”
In an interview on “Meet The Press,” anchor Chuck Todd asked Dent to confirm a New York Times report that the president angrily said he would blame Dent for the failed Republican healthcare legislation – and if tax reform succumbed to a similar fate.
“I’m not going to deny that,” Dent replied. “I listened very respectfully to what the president had to say. But my bottom line is this: This discussion has been far too much about artificial timelines, arbitrary deadlines, all to effect the baseline on tax reform. This conversation should be more about the people whose lives are going to be impacted by our decisions on their healthcare.”
Republicans were forced to pull their healthcare plan on Friday after party leaders failed to successfully placate the most conservative members of the House while maintaining support from moderates like Dent.
During Sunday’s interview, the congressman said Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t adequately address concerns about the bill from GOP governors of states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
“They wanted to be part of this process,” Dent said. “They were not brought in. I mean, those kinds of issues were very important to me, and to the people I represent and, frankly, to a lot of the members of Congress who are part of our center-right group, the Tuesday Group.”
He added: “We’re very concerned about the Medicaid changes. And so, yeah, I can hold my ground.”
Since the bill’s failure, the president has laid blame on a number of forces from the right and left that he claimed derailed the bill.
Trump blamed Democrats on Friday for refusing to support the bill, though Republicans made no serious attempt to court House Democrats.
But in a tweet on Sunday, the president lashed out at the conservative House Freedom Caucus and conservative groups for refusing to support the bill.
Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2017