Is the time of Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as majority leader in the U.S. Senate coming to an end? If not an end, certainly a turning point.
The American people believe, rightly, that the Congress under the leadership of McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., hasn’t done much. Nearly seven in 10 Americans (68 percent) judge the Republican-controlled Congress a failure, according to a new CNN poll. The approval rating of Republican leadership has fallen to a dismal 24 percent.
And why shouldn’t Americans think Congress has failed? The Republicans broke their number one campaign promise from the past seven years in their unwillingness to repeal Obamacare. In more than six months of unified Republican government, the GOP has yet to deliver on the core pieces of President Trump’s legislative agenda.
President Trump has noticed. As McConnell chastised the president for having unrealistic expectations of what the Senate could accomplish, Trump took to Twitter to remind Senator McConnell that he only expects Republicans to keep promises they’ve made for years.
Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2017
Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2017
And it wasn’t just on Twitter:
Can McConnell do it? Even as the president criticizes Sen. McConnell’s lame excuses, other Republicans are beginning to show signs of irritation with the majority leader.
“I like Mitch, but for eight years, we've been saying we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare. It's not like we made this up overnight. We have been working on repealing Obamacare all year,” Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. told Fox News Radio’s “The Brian Kilmeade Show” Wednesday.
“There is no way to sugarcoat this. The Republican Party promised for eight years to repeal and replace Obamacare, we failed, and if we give up, shame on us,” Graham said.
Dissatisfaction with the process leading up to the GOP’s failed attempt at the fake repeal of Obamacare brought together Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and John McCain, R-Ariz. in criticism of McConnell’s leadership.
Candidates for the U.S. Senate Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., and former Judge Roy Moore have both taken shots at McConnell, with Moore blasting “Mitch McConnell’s D.C. slime machine” and Brooks calling for McConnell to step down from leadership.
McConnell’s failures are demonstrable, and his plan for future legislative success is unclear. This fall, Republicans in Congress will face several challenges as the debt limit, funding for the government, and tax reform dominate the business of the Senate.
What is McConnell’s plan?
So far, it seems Republicans will pass a clean debt limit increase without extracting a single policy concession from the Left. And as long as McConnell adamantly refuses to consider a government shutdown, Democrats hold all the negotiating power over the budget. President Trump and the Republicans capitulated once already on government funding back in April — what is McConnell’s plan to secure funding for Trump’s priorities in the face of Democratic obstruction? And where does tax reform fit between what will be long, protracted fights on government spending and the debt limit as conservative opposition to growing government mounts?
If McConnell doesn’t come up with answers to these questions fast, he may find President Trump calling for him to step down. As the president himself said Friday when asked if he thinks McConnell should go:
“Well, I’ll tell you what, if he doesn’t get repeal and replace done, if he doesn’t get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn’t get them done, then you can ask me that question.”
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.