Trump hits McConnell for Senate crash of Obama health repeal
In this Aug. 1, 2017 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Ky. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill Washington.
President Donald Trump rebuked his own party's Senate leader on Wednesday for the collapse of the Republican push to repeal and replace the Obama health care law, using Twitter to demand of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, "Why not done?"
Trump was firing back at the Kentucky Republican for telling a home-state audience this week that the president had "not been in this line of work before" and had "excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."
The exchange came less than two weeks after the Senate rejected repeated attempts by McConnell to muscle legislation through his chamber scuttling President Barack 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 vows to erase Obama's statute it's made since the law's 2010 enactment.
"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 was an unusually personal reproach of the 33-year Senate veteran. McConnell is deeply respected by his GOP colleagues and Trump will need him to guide the next major Republican priority through the chamber — a tax system overhaul.
For his part, McConnell's statement was surprising because he is generally among the capital's most guarded politicians. When it comes to criticizing Trump, he's seldom gone further than saying he wishes he would stop tweeting, and usually refused to chime in when Trump made widely condemned comments during last year's presidential campaign.
McConnell told the Rotary Club of Florence, Kentucky 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 week ago," when McConnell was unable to muster a majority to push three different Republican health care bills through the chamber.
That drew a tweet Wednesday 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....."
This is the first year Republicans have been in a position to scuttle Obama's law because they control the White House and Congress, making last month's crash of their bill acutely painful for the party.
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.
In addition, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., who is challenging Sen. Luther Strange for the GOP nomination for his Senate seat, responded angrily to Trump's endorsement of Strange. On his campaign website, Brooks said, "Mitch McConnell and the Swamp managed to mislead the President last night."
The conservative Brooks has criticized McConnell before, accusing him of doing a poor job of crafting a health care bill that could pass the Senate.
Republicans placed health care at the top of their 2017 agenda when the year began. Congress has begun its summer recess without passing any major legislation. Congress has passed legislation buttressing veterans' health care and financing the Food and Drug Administration, and the Senate confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.