Rift Between Congressional Republicans and Trump White House Getting Worse

Senator Flake has claimed that the Republican Party has not done enough to push back against Trump. 

Back in January, Reince Priebus joined the White House on relatively weak footing, already viewed suspiciously by many of the insiders in President Trump’s camp. Meanwhile, the divided chain of command left Priebus as one of the weakest chiefs of staff in modern history. For those following the White House, it was no surprise when Priebus was fired on July 28th, leaving office after having served the shortest tenure for any chief of staff.

So why did Trump hire Priebus in the first place? That question can be answered with one simple word: Congress.

Priebus was brought into the White House owing to his connections to many high-level Republicans in both the House and Senate. The thinking at the time was that Priebus’s relatively long tenure as chairman of the Republican National Committee would allow him to serve as an integral link between the White House and Congress. This, in turn, would allow an administration filled with political outsiders to pursue an aggressive legislative agenda.

Only, now that agenda has ground to a halt. Efforts to repeal Obamacare have failed, and the most recent bill delivered to Trump’s desk is a set of sanctions on Russia and other countries that the president himself has lambasted. President Trump wanted to avoid signing the bill, but with overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate, there was no way for him to effectively block the measure.

All the while, President Trump has continued to lash out at Republican senators via Twitter, demanding that they try again to repeal Obamacare.

Only, Republican senators are beginning to ignore his calls. Trump has frequently lambasted Democrats and blamed them for failed efforts to repeal Obamacare. Now, Democrats have found an unlikely protector: Republican and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who recently said, “It’s pretty obvious on healthcare our problem was not the Democrats. The votes were simply not there.”

McConnell also brushed off Trump’s calls to repeal filibuster rules, noting that such a move wouldn’t help because even without a filibuster, the 51 Republican votes needed simply aren’t there.

Meanwhile, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander pursues new efforts to reform healthcare. Only this time, Alexander and other Republican Senators are looking to work with Democrats to push through reform rather than trying to go it alone. This marks a stark break with previous Republican efforts, which have completely ignored Democrats and any attempts at bipartisanship.

At the same time, many Republicans are becoming more vocal in criticizing Trump. Republican Senators John McCain (Ariz.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Richard Shelby (Ala.), and Orrin Hatch (Utah) have all criticized Trump for moving to reverse Obama-era rules allowing transgender troops to serve. McCain had already shut down Trump’s efforts at Obamacare repeal without replace. Many Republicans have also been vocal of their support for embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Freshman Senator Jeff Flake has gone as far as to release a book that slammed not only the president, but also criticized the Republican Party for “aiding and abetting” him. Flake has claimed that the Republican Party has not done enough to push back against Trump. In his book “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle,” Flake went after both President Trump and the populism that propelled him into the highest office.

Even if criticisms of President Trump grow, don’t expect Democrats and Republicans to become best buds in the Capital. Mitch McConnell has already emphasized that the Republican Party plans to go it alone in regards to tax reform.

Whether or not the Republican Party will be able to muster up enough support for wide sweeping overhauls to one of the world’s largest and most complex tax codes, however, remains to be seen.

Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is an OpsLens Contributor and political consultant. Brinker has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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