White House official says Trump will hold Congress 'accountable' on health care

Marc Short speaks to "Powerhouse Politics."

ByABC News
March 30, 2017, 7:44 PM

— -- Early this morning, President Donald Trump began the day on Twitter, calling for his supporters to fight conservative members of his own party in the midterm elections. Marc Short, Trump’s director of legislative affairs, calls that “accountability.”

“The president is going to hold accountable members that he finds stand in the way,” Short told ABC News' Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. “Whether or not that's people in the Freedom Caucus, or if that's people in the Tuesday Group, or also as you've seen, Democrats."

Short said the administration isn’t having “speculative conversation” about lending a hand with the campaigns of some members’ challengers next year, but that the Republican Party needs to show “an ability to lead and govern.”

“So when members need to have extra encouragement or need to be held accountable to their voters, then we want to help remind their voters [that] we're doing the best we can to repeal Obamacare, but your member is standing in the way."

However, Short also said the administration could have done more to reach out to conservative groups on how the bill could reach some of their policy goals, such as defunding Planned Parenthood and reforming government entitlements.

“There's a lot of great things to sell to conservatives that I think doing again hopefully we would have had a better opportunity to educate them on what those benefits were," Short said.

In an interview today on "CBS This Morning," Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said further conservative pushback on the bill would lead to something he thinks is “hardly a conservative thing.”

“If this Republican Congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we’ll push the president into working with Democrats,” Ryan said.

But Short said that’s not a bad thing. Trump is “open to wherever there's a good idea wanting to embrace it and not look at it from a partisan lens.”

However, he pointed out that Democrats have not been interested in shaping new health care policy as long as the Obamacare repeal is on the table.

“We would welcome the chance to work with Democrats on repealing Obamacare, but unfortunately most -- in fact all -- that they would only work with us down the road on other issues,” Short said.

Short said the House likely won’t have another chance to vote on the proposal before the two-week recess in mid-April, but that he expects members to come back with a renewed commitment to the bill after meeting with constituents he expects will back it.

“Members [will] return to say, 'This is not something we can just let stand, we need to do a better job of coming back with a solution,'” Short said. “I would imagine this spring you'll see the conversation heat back up.”

As for what’s next, Short said the administration is looking to the judicial branch, including pushing for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

“The future of the courts is something that this administration really has an opportunity to help shape,” Short said. “I think that this administration is committed to helping nominate the best-qualified jurists and certainly Judge Gorsuch is that.”

Short added that the administration has other legislative priorities as well.

“Once you're past Obamacare, there's all sorts of other legislation that we believe we can work on in a bipartisan manner," Short said.

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