U.S. President Donald Trump and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell tried to move past the tensions that followed the collapse of the healthcare reform effort on Monday with a show of unity that focused on tax reform and other items on the Republican agenda.
“We are probably now, despite what we read – we’re probably now – I think at least as far as I’m concerned – closer than ever before,” Trump said at a White House Rose Garden appearance with McConnell. “The relationship is very good. We’re fighting for the same thing – we’re fighting for lower taxes, big tax cuts, the biggest tax cuts in the history of our nation.”
The two men said they have been friends for a long time, and McConnell said they were in frequent contact on a range of issues. Their White House meeting came as Republicans were trying to gather support for a tax reform plan that was another of Trump’s priorities during the presidential campaign.
“We have the same agenda,” McConnell told reporters. “We’ve been friends and acquaintances for a long time. We talk frequently – we don’t give you a readout every time we have a conversation.”
In August, Trump slammed McConnell repeatedly after a years-long Republican campaign to gut the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, failed in the U.S. Senate.
“I just want him to get repeal and replace done. I’ve been hearing repeal and replace now for seven years. … Mitch, get to work and let’s get it done,” Trump told reporters at a briefing during his vacation then.
Days earlier, Trump had assailed McConnell on Twitter, responding to a speech in which the Senate leader said Trump had “excessive expectations” of Congress on matters such as healthcare and did not understand how long it can take to pass major legislation.
“Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!” Trump tweeted.
(Reporting by James Oliphant and Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis)