Congressional Republicans are dialing back expectations after President Donald Trump’s daily distractions have proven to hurt them as much as they’ve helped provide cover.
The president came right out of the gate enacting executive orders banning travelers from certain Muslim nations and turning local police into a deportation force, but the resulting backlash and court challenges have stalled the ambitious GOP agenda, reported The Hill.
Trump’s frequent and erratic Twitter attacks have dominated news coverage, but they haven’t managed to turn attention away from Republican attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — and lawmakers have either faced hostile constituents or been forced to flee them.
The president’s steep on-the-job learning curve has also slowed the Republican agenda, and some GOP lawmakers are hoping to move the goalposts less than a month into the Trump administration.
Trump and his Republican allies promised voters they would scrap Obamacare, overhaul the tax code and fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but they’re facing a series of budget deadlines that could prove difficult to meet — even without trying to pass expensive and controversial legislation.
“There’s no way we can do all these issues,” one Republican lawmaker told The Hill, adding that it would be a “Herculean” task to pass just two of those measures.
“We’ve got to prioritize these things,” he added. “If you only get seven big things half-way down the road, that’s nothing … so you’ve got to prioritize.”
The spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) insists relations have improved between congressional Republicans and the Trump White House, but hardline conservatives are already frustrated by the slow pace of the GOP’s agenda.
The House Freedom Caucus worries the entire 2017 agenda will remain held up until the health care law is officially repealed, The Hill reported, but they don’t sense enough urgency from their fellow Republicans.
“The Republicans in Congress, do they need to speed things up, get a sense of urgency?” said Sean Hannity this week on his Fox News show. “In other words, do they need to keep up with the speed of the president? I think it’s time for them to get a good, quick kick in the backside.”
Lawmakers appear to have been caught off guard by the intense opposition to their efforts to get rid of Obamacare, which they’ve tried to dismiss as “paid protests.”
Corporate interests such as Americans for Prosperity, on the other hand, are concerned that Trump’s proposed budget spending — on infrastructure, defense and the border wall — aren’t offset by spending cuts.
Ryan, for his part, continues to insist everything’s fine.
“I’m focused on making Congress work,” he told PBS this week. “I’m focused on making good on our promises that we made.”