Trump feud with Republican allies puts agenda in doubt

Geneva Matthews
August 27, 2017

There is bipartisan agreement to spend large amounts of taxpayer dollars on all sorts of infrastructure nonsense and they can not get it passed Congress and can not get direction from the White House on shaping it.

The more Republican leaders try to salvage their agenda - and their reputations - from the shoot-from-the-lip presidency of Donald Trump, the deeper the hole gets.

McConnell, like other leading Republicans, is particularly upset by Trump's persistent attacks against vulnerable Republican senators who need his help, according to a person familiar with the Kentucky Republican's thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations.

It was the latest evidence of growing tensions between the president and the Senate Republican leader. On Twitter, Trump scolded House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for bungling the debt-limit talks, calling it a "mess".

"I think the relationships are fine", she told reporters.

"The question is whether the public believes that Donald Trump is the Republican Party, and he's not..."

"If we have to close down our government, we're building that wall", Trump said during a Tuesday rally in Phoenix, Arizona, suggesting that he would allow a shutdown come October if a U.S. -Mexico wall was not funded. He also promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico has steadfastly refused and Trump has largely stopped talking about that pledge. Because, for Trump, that promise to make Mexico pay for the wall was so fundamental to his appeal as a candidate that to openly acknowledge it isn't going to happen (and never was) is hugely politically problematic. Republicans didn't need 60 votes on that bill because ObamaCare repeal was moving under special budgetary rules. And, it comes just days removed from a series of stories detailing the fact that the two men haven't spoken in weeks and have no plans to do so. "He can veto a bill without it, but then he'd be responsible for the shutdown", the Journal wrote. Two years later, Gingrich and Republicans suffered major losses in the House - and Gingrich quit. Democrats seeking the House majority have limited opportunities to pick up new seats given the way many congressional districts have been redrawn by Republican-led state legislatures.

But the mishaps of healthcare.gov - a slow-motion collapse that began in October and continued well into 2014 - turned into a godsend for Republicans.

In a Friday morning rant it took President Trump just eleven minutes to go from lamenting that eight Democrats control the Senate thanks to the filibuster and he won't be able to get any bills passed, to bragging that he has passed more bills than nearly any other president.

"Not passing a debt limit hike in time would have an even greater impact on financial markets because when we did this in the past you had a Democrat in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress and people could basically understand the political aspects of what was going on".

Trump, leaders' meeting being planned: Even as Trump feuds with GOP leaders, he is working to convene a meeting with them, as well as top Democrats, soon after the August recess ends.

The problem is obvious. And doing that through the border wall is something that's important.

Freedom Caucus members have no real leverage to force legislative changes, but if they won't vote for what's known as a "clean" debt ceiling increase - one that is not attached to spending cuts or any other bills - that puts some leverage in the hands of congressional Democrats, whose votes GOP leaders will be counting on to get an increase done.

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