- A feud between President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is bursting out into the open.
- The feud sprang over Republicans’ failure on healthcare reform.
- It could provide new complications in GOP policy efforts like tax reform.
A burgeoning feud between President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could have significant ramifications for the GOP’s once-ambitious policy agenda.
Analysts say the war of words could be another stumbling block for various Republican plans after limited success in their first seven months of power in Washington.
“I think the state of political rhetoric is concerning for both the GOP’s legislative agenda and the fiscal deadlines in September,” Isaac Boltansky, a political analyst at the research firm Compass Point, told Business Insider. “Trump and McConnell are linchpins in the legislative process, and these comments suggest a deep divide in both tone and substance.”
The cracks are starting to show at a critical time for the GOP agenda, as necessary deadlines and a massive tax reform fight loom on the horizon.
The relationship between Trump and McConnell began to sour soon after Senate Republicans were unable to come to an agreement on a package to repeal and replace Obamacare in late July.
Trump took to Twitter to criticise the lack of action by the Senate, and he has since been disgruntled at McConnell’s inability to deliver on the healthcare overhaul.
McConnell responded during events earlier this week in Kentucky, saying Trump’s frustration stemmed from “excessive expectations” for the speed of the legislative process.
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before,” McConnell said at a local Kentucky political event. “I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
McConnell’s remarks drew attacks from Trump and White House social media director Dan Scavino, who both went after McConnell on Twitter.
“Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!”
“You can see the president’s tweets. Obviously there’s some frustration,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump held a call with McConnell on Wednesday to express his frustration. The report said Trump became “animated” and implored McConnell to continue to push for a repeal of Obamacare.
The public division between the president and a leading member of his own party comes at a time when the Senate needs to address a series of deadlines on the horizon — most pressing, a bill to keep the government funded and legislation to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. And Republicans are gearing up for a big push on tax reform.
Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Horizon Investments, told Business Insider that the dust-up is “more evidence that the Senate will go its own way” on policy issues. While Valliere said he doesn’t necessarily think this will create more chaos for the political deliberations, it shows Trump is cut out of the deliberation.
“Things like tax reform will begin to move by late fall, but the White House looks increasingly irrelevant in this process,” Valliere said. “Trump will gladly take whatever he gets.”
Boltansky, whose base case is a “modest” tax cut package in the first half of 2018, said that this back-and-forth is a “headwind” for any policy push by the GOP.
“These types of public spats are to be expected, especially given the lack of clear legislative victories and the state of American politics, but it is admittedly worrisome given that these two men are pivotal in guiding the GOP’s legislative agenda,” Boltanksy said.
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