‘The president is a distraction’: Republican lawmakers start to turn on Trump as his agenda flounders

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When Donald Trump was elected president and Republicans retained control of both chambers of Congress, there was a sense that the Republican agenda — lowering taxes, repealing Obamacare, decreasing regulation — would be unleashed.

Roughly six months into the Trump presidency, however, little movement on that agenda has started to lead to boiling frustration within the party.

The repeal of Obamacare, a central tenant of the last seven years of GOP policy, has become bogged down in the Senate. The replacement bill is the least popular piece of legislation in decades.

Tax reform has yet to get off the ground. Major Obama-era regulations like the Dodd-Frank Act are still in place.

Throw all that on top of that the swirling, seemingly constant revelations around the Russia investigation, and some Republican lawmakers are starting to shift their moods on Trump.

“I don’t even pay any attention to what is going on with the administration because I don’t care. They’re a distraction. The family is a distraction, the president is a distraction,” Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho told Politico. “At first, it was, ‘Well yeah, this is the guy we elected. He’ll learn, he’ll learn.’ And you just don’t see that happening.”

One unnamed senator told the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman that Trump’s ability to influence the healthcare debate, currently in a deadlock between moderates and conservatives in the GOP conference, is minimal.

According to the Times, the senator said Trump “scares no one in the Senate, not even the pages.”

After the Senate healthcare bill stalled the first time, Sen. Susan Collins expressed frustration with Trump’s inability to work well with Congress.

“This president is the first president in our history who has had neither political nor military experience,” Collins said. “Thus, it has been a challenge to him to learn how to interact with Congress and how to push his agenda forward. I also believe it would have been better had the president started with infrastructure, which has bipartisan support, rather than tackling a political divisive and technically complicated issue like healthcare.”

Lawmakers have also continually expressed frustration at Trump’s lack of engagement on the healthcare push and his seeming lack of knowledge on the issue when he does attempt to assist on the bill.