For a second straight day, President Donald Trump expressed his public frustration with the top Republican in the U.S. Senate, chiding Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the failure to get a bill approved that would overhaul the Obama health law, as the White House reinforced Mr. Trump’s displeasure.
“I’m very disappointed in Mitch,” Mr. Trump said.
“All I hear is ‘repeal and replace,'” the President said of the GOP push to do away with Obamacare, as he blasted his own party’s leadership in the Senate for failing to get a bill over the finish line in late July.
“I said, Mitch get to work, and let’s get it done,” the President said of his message to the Senate Majority Leader. “They lost by one vote – for a thing like that to happen is a disgrace.”
Asked if Sen. McConnell should step down as GOP leader in the Senate, the President said he would hold off on any such declaration, and wait to see how the GOP agenda proceeds in the Congress overall.
“If he doesn’t get ‘repeal and replace’ done, and if he doesn’t get taxes done – meaning cuts and reform – and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done – infrastructure – if he doesn’t get them done, then you can ask me that question,” the President said, in an extraordinary public rebuke of his own party’s Senate leader.
There have been no signs on Capitol Hill that McConnell is in any trouble – yes, there are some more conservative Senators who have made noises about pushing him out for several years, but there is no evidence that they are any threat to the veteran Senator from Kentucky.
One of those who quickly weighed in to support McConnell was Sen. Orrin Hatch, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
At the President’s golf retreat in Bedminster, New Jersey, officials made clear that Mr. Trump wants to see action on health care, and more, and that’s the reason for his public frustration with Congress.
“You can see the president's tweets,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the Twitter messages for Sen. McConnell. “Obviously there's some frustration. I don't have anything more to add.”
The White House also confirmed earlier press reports that the President and McConnell had spoken by telephone on Wednesday before Mr. Trump first tweeted his displeasure with the Senate Majority Leader.
“I'm not aware of how long,” Sanders said of the call. “Health care was certainly discussed.”
Mr. Trump’s unusual criticism of his own party’s leader in the Senate certainly pointed out something that was true – that Republicans have been talking for over seven years about repealing the Obama health law, but even when given the opportunity after President Trump’s win in November, they did not have a plan that was ready for a vote in the Congress.
But in plenty of interviews over the last few weeks in the hallways of the Senate, there has been no note of any uprising against McConnell, as some almost said he was lucky to keep 49 GOP Senators together in a vote on a Republican “skinny” health care proposal.