Congress hasn't accomplished much since being sworn into office in 2017. It's enough to make Republican senators nervous about being tied to a party that hasn't managed to pass any of the things promised during the 2016 campaigns.
An Axios report Monday noted that the party can't manage to agree on what any of the legislation should be. It warns that if they aren't able to pass anything that leaves conservatives inspired, their voters might not come out for the 2018 midterm elections. Given the results of the recent special elections, that could spell disaster for the House and Senate Republicans up for election in November.
“We need some more wins, first of all because that’s the right thing to do," said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker. "Second of all, because it’s politically expedient to our base to turn out in the fall, to make sure they see us being active and following through on this stuff.”
The special election in Arizona last week was for a district President Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points. The GOP candidate in that race won by just five points. There were over 140 Republicans in Congress where Trump won their districts by less than 20 percent.
“I think we need to do much more,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said about his party's legislative accomplishments. “Democratic turnout is going to be very, very high. The good news is, [in] the states that are up in ’18, there are many more conservatives than there are liberals. If we turn conservatives out, we’ll have a very good election. If they stay home, it could be a terrible election.”
Walker went on to explain that when talking with the GOP leadership, "they understand and seem to agree that we can’t just talk about Neil Gorsuch and tax cuts from here to November."
Their problem, however, is that the GOP's tax cuts aren't polling very well. In fact, the Republican Party was forced to pull independent expenditure ads for a Pennsylvania candidate in the special election because it was making things worse for him.
“People want to know what you will do; they don't want you constantly saying ‘You're welcome’ for being functional long enough to pass tax reform," one senior GOP aide told Axios. "Especially when tax reform isn't overwhelmingly popular.”
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) said that he thinks the GOP has "accomplished a lot." However, he confesses that it isn't enough.
“The more we can get done, the better, and there’s still a major opportunity to find a compromise on immigration here,” he said.
Republicans had promised to do things like overturn Obamacare, a massive infrastructure overhaul and pass border security funding that would build Trump's wall. Despite holding the majority in the House, Senate and having a Republican in the White House, the GOP failed in every attempt.
Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) conceded that they need to pass another piece of landmark legislation prior to the election.
“To not focus on significant legislative issues and more importantly our promises to the America people, will not only impact midterm elections but will erode any belief that DC will ever change," Meadows said.
The anonymous House aide said that even a small infrastructure bill could help the desperate GOP.
“All the stories people read is that it is a do nothing Congress and the WH [sic] is chaotic," the aide said via text message. "Showing good governing, on a non-controversial issue, willing to work with Dems helps our narrative."
One problem for a GOP that has claimed "fiscal responsibility," is a $1.3 trillion budget that added to a deficit the Republican Party has spent decades criticizing. One source close to House leadership noted that there's "no taking that back."