BY ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) — A top White House aide and a Fox News host lashed out at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday for saying people think Congress hasn’t done anything this year partly because President Donald Trump is inexperienced and had “excessive expectations” about how quickly lawmakers could act.
The back and forth was an unusually negative public exchange between Republicans that came less than two weeks after the GOP effort to repeal and replace the Obama health care law was rejected by the Senate.
McConnell, R-Ky., is generally one of the capital’s more circumspect politicians. Conservatives who consider him insufficiently ideological have targeted him before, and Trump himself used Twitter to pressure McConnell while he was trying to push health care legislation through the Senate.
“Our new president had of course not been in this line of work before,” McConnell said Monday during remarks to the Rotary Club of Florence, Kentucky. “And I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
He said 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…..”
Republicans have been trying to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health care law since its 2010 enactment. This is the first year they’ve been in a position to do so 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, Strange 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.
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