One day after Senate Republicans delayed a vote on their controversial healthcare reform bill, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer challenged President Donald Trump to convene a meeting of the entire chamber to discuss the matter.
"We Democrats are genuinely interested in finding a place where our two parties can come together on healthcare," said Schumer on the Senate floor Wednesday. " We admit that the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect. There are ways we can improve on that law and on our entire health care system. So let’s talk together about how we can achieve that in a bipartisan way."
Schumer suggested the meeting take place at Blair House, where former President Barack Obama held a bipartisan summit before he signed the Affordable Care Act into law.
Trump quickly batted away the idea.
"I don't think he's serious. He hasn't been serious. Obamacare is such a disaster," said Trump, referring to the Affordable Care Act. "And [Schumer] wants to try and save something that's hurting a lot of people. It's hurting a lot of people."
Schumer, a longtime Democratic Senator from New York, requested that Republicans abandon their bill's Medicaid funding reductions and tax cuts for wealthier Americans. But Republicans are unlikely to undo those provisions, even as they work to revise the legislation to satisfy both moderate and conservative Republicans who remain on the fence over the bill.
Schumer's office told TIME the Senator's comments constituted a blanket request.
Given the partisan nature of the process so far, it remains unlikely the two parties will come together to move the healthcare reform process forward. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell drafted the legislation behind closed doors with a group of 13 Republican Senators, and even some of those lawmakers had not seen the legislation before it was unveiled on June 22. (Despite Obama's bipartisan confab, the Affordable Care Act ultimately passed without a single Republican vote.)
Still, some Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, have expressed their desire to work with Democrats on the matter. But McConnell has indicated he views working with the Democrats as a last resort only if he cannot first unify his party.
"[The Democrats] aren't interested in participating in this," McConnell told reporters Wednesday. "Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo, or markets will continue to collapse and we’ll have to sit down with Sen. Schumer,” he said, in reference to the individual insurance markets created by the Affordable Care Act.