‘Obviously, there’s some frustration’: Trump lashes out at McConnell, McCain over healthcare
Speaking from the steps of his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Thursday, Trump criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) for failing to pass legislation that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
“I just want him to get repeal and replace done,” Trump said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “They lost by one vote. For a thing like that to happen is a disgrace. And, frankly, it shouldn't have happened. That, I can tell you - it shouldn't have happened.”
When asked if McConnell should consider stepping down as majority leader, Trump suggested it could be a possibility.
“Well, I'll tell you what, if he doesn't get repeal and replace done and 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,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments came after he posted a series of tweets on Thursday, blaming McConnell for the Republican’s failure to pass healthcare legislation.
“Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!” Trump tweeted.
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
Later that day, Trump encouraged McConnell to “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!” Trump tweeted.
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
The feud began after McConnell made a speech in his home state of Kentucky on Monday, where he called the president inexperienced and criticized him for setting “artificial deadlines” in the push to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“Now our new president has of course not been in this line of work before. And I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process,” McConnell said, according to the Hill.
“And so, part of the reason I think people feel like we’re underperforming is because too many artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality and the complexity of legislature may not have been fully understood,” McConnell added.
McConnell signaled that Republicans are “moving on” from their plans to repeal and replace Obamacare for a while.
"If people can show me 50 votes for anything that would make progress on that, I'll turn back to it. But in the absence of that, we're going to be moving on. We have a number of things to do in September," McConnell said, according to CBS News.
When the Senate reconvenes in September, lawmakers will need to pass several bills to keep the government running, including raising the debt ceiling and funding the government.
On Wednesday, Trump fired back at McConnell in an early morning tweet expressing disappointment at McConnell's comments.
“Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?” Trump tweeted.
Senator Mitch McConnell said I had "excessive expectations," but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
Before his tweet, Trump reportedly spoke with McConnell on the phone and urged him to continue working to pass healthcare legislation, a source told the New York Times.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the president and McConnell discussed healthcare on the phone and Trump was feeling frustrated with the Senate majority leader.
“You can see the president’s tweets. Obviously there’s some frustration. I don’t have anything more to add,” Huckabee Sanders said, according to the Hill.
McConnell’s team has tried to downplay the feud between the president and the majority leader.
“The leader has spoken repeatedly about the path forward regarding Obamacare repeal on the Senate floor, at media availabilities multiple times and in Kentucky,” Antonia Ferrier, McConnell’s spokeswoman, told the New York Times. “If he has any new statements, I’ll be sure to pass them along.”
Trump also reportedly attacked Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) during his phone call with McConnell as well, criticizing him for casting the decisive vote against the GOP healthcare bill, a source told Fox News. Trump also reportedly asked McConnell why he is allowing McCain to keep his chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee after voting against the Republican healthcare bill.