Donald Trump has accused Republicans of having a “death wish” as his relationship with members of the political party falls to a new low.
“Republicans, sorry, but I’ve been hearing about Repeal & Replace for 7 years, didn’t happen!” Mr Trump tweeted, referring to the failure by Senate Republicans to pass a bill that would have dismantled Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Even worse, the Senate Filibuster Rule will ... never allow the Republicans to pass even great legislation. 8 Dems control – will rarely get 60 (vs. 51) votes. It is a Repub Death Wish!”
Mr Trump’s comments come as reports swirl around Washington that Republicans on Capitol Hill can’t remember seeing a worse relationship between a president and congressional leaders of the same party.
“Is he annoyed at Republican leadership? Yeah, I think he probably is. And believe me, as a Republican, so am I. As a citizen, I am, too,” Mr Trump’s budget director, former Representative Mick Mulvaney, said on Fox Business.
“I was promised that they would have repealed and replaced Obamacare by now.”
Earlier this week, in a surprise deal, the President agreed with Democrats on a plan to provide aid to Hurricane Harvey victims, increase the debt limit and fund the government until 15 December – a move that went against the wishes of many Republicans.
“It was a little bit of a surprise to everybody,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate.
“I think you have some unique personalities involved,” he said, according to The Hill. “We’re working our way through it.”
Republican Senator John McCain, who Mr Trump has criticised for voting against a bill that would have rolled back parts of the ACA, said he couldn’t remember a president ever showing such a level of disrespect to leaders of his own party.
“All the news reports show that this is a very unusual time and situation,” Mr McCain said, according to The Hill, referring to news reports of the meeting where Mr Trump sided with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate.
Mr Trump’s partnership with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in particular, appeared to sour following the Republican leadership’s failure to get enough votes to repeal and replace Obamacare. In the wake of that devastating defeat in July, the President has been urging Mr McConnell to change the upper chamber’s voting rules.
Mr McConnell had attempted to pass the healthcare bill under the budget reconciliation process. To conform to the rules of reconciliation legislation – meaning that the Senate only needs 51 votes to push forward a measure – the bill must meet certain requirements, including reducing the budget deficit.
Most other bills can be filibustered – when debate over a proposed piece of legislation is extended – and would need 60 votes to end the filibuster, or invoke closure. Requiring 60 votes to end debate is a unique characteristic of the Senate and has the effect of requiring some Republicans to work with Democrats to push forward legislation.
Mr Trump’s repeated calls to change Senate rules are said to have frustrated Republicans, but the President appears to believe that throwing out the filibuster procedure is the key to passing important legislation.
After more than seven months in office, Mr Trump has still not been able to secure a major legislative victory.
In another tweet on Friday morning, Mr Trump said: “Republicans must start the Tax Reform/Tax Cut legislation ASAP. Don’t wait until the end of September. Needed now more than ever. Hurry!”
Both Mr McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have tried to downplay divisions between Congress and the White House. Mr Ryan has suggested the President continues to be a reliable negotiating partner who is looking out for the Republican party’s interests.
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