Trump chides Se­nate ma­jor­ity leader over health bill’s fail­ure

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - ALAN FRAM In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Julie Bykow­icz of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump scolded his own party’s Se­nate leader on Wed­nes­day for the crash of the Repub­li­can drive to re­peal and re­place Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law.

Trump fired back at the Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., for telling a home-state au­di­ence this week that the pres­i­dent had “not been in this line of work be­fore, and I think had ex­ces­sive ex­pec­ta­tions about how quickly things hap­pen in the demo­cratic process.”

The ex­change came less than two weeks af­ter the Se­nate’s re­jec­tion of the GOP ef­fort to scut­tle Obama’s health care law. The House ap­proved its ver­sion in May, but its Se­nate fail­ure — thanks to de­fect­ing GOP sen­a­tors — marked the col­lapse of the party’s at­tempt to de­liver on prom­ises to re­peal the statute.

“Sen­a­tor Mitch McCon­nell said I had ‘ex­ces­sive ex­pec­ta­tions,’ but I don’t think so,” Trump tweeted. “Af­ter 7 years of hear­ing Re­peal & Re­place, why not done?”

Trump had re­peat­edly used Twit­ter to pres­sure McCon­nell to find the votes to ap­prove the health care bill, even say­ing hours af­ter its fail­ure that GOP sen­a­tors “look like fools.”

But his tweet Wed­nes­day marked an un­usu­ally per­sonal re­proach of the 33-year Se­nate vet­eran. Trump will need him to guide the next ma­jor Repub­li­can pri­or­ity, a tax sys­tem over­haul, through the cham­ber.

McCon­nell told the Ro­tary Club of Florence, Ky., on Mon­day that peo­ple think Congress is un­der­per­form­ing partly be­cause “ar­ti­fi­cial dead­lines, un­re­lated to the re­al­ity of the com­plex­ity of leg­is­lat­ing, may not have been fully un­der­stood.”

He added that 52 is “a chal­leng­ing num­ber,” a ref­er­ence to the GOP’s scant 52-48 Se­nate ma­jor­ity. “You saw that on full dis­play a cou­ple of weeks ago,” when McCon­nell failed to muster a ma­jor­ity to push three dif­fer­ent Repub­li­can health care plans through the cham­ber.

McCon­nell’s Ken­tucky re­marks also drew a tweet from Dan Scavino Jr., the White House so­cial me­dia di­rec­tor.

“More ex­cuses,” wrote Scavino, one of Trump’s more out­spo­ken loy­al­ists. “Se­nateMa­jLdr must have needed an­other 4 years — in ad­di­tion to the 7 years — to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare.”

Also join­ing the fray was Fox News host Sean Han­nity, a close Trump ally.

“Se­nateMa­jLdr No Sen­a­tor, YOU are a WEAK, SPINELESS leader who does not keep his word and you need to Re­tire!” Han­nity tweeted.

Be­fore tak­ing of­fice and af­ter be­com­ing pres­i­dent, Trump spoke of­ten of mov­ing health care leg­is­la­tion rapidly through Congress. On Jan. 10 — 10 days be­fore tak­ing of­fice — he told The New York Times that Congress could ap­prove a re­peal bill “prob­a­bly sometime next week,” and a sep­a­rate re­place­ment mea­sure would be passed “very quickly or si­mul­ta­ne­ously, very shortly there­after.”

Top con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans also fed ex­pec­ta­tions for quick work, plac­ing health care atop their 2017 agenda. In Jan­uary, House lead­ers un­veiled a sched­ule call­ing for ac­tion by late March, and McCon­nell said in March that he wanted Se­nate pas­sage by the April re­cess.

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