The GOP Congress is moving at a snail’s pace in their effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, and it is not just reaping frustration, it may affect the next election. The time it has taken to get healthcare passed will most like affect the rest of President Trump’s legislative agenda. His top priorities are now expected to be pushed back to the end of this year and possibly even into 2018. That is the year that many of these lawmakers will be vying for reelection, so touch votes will be an even tougher decision for these politicians. The pace of which things are getting through to successful votes is also draining Republican momentum that was gained through the presidential election.
Tax reform has been relegated to a back burner until the healthcare bill can be forged. And lawmakers haven’t even begun the discussion about Trump’s trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal. Then there is the GOP promise to get the appropriations process in order. All these goals seem almost impossible in the cut-throat climate in Washington at this point.
The question that many are asking is how long President Trump, not known for his patience, can live with the legislative crawl of Congress. He recently told Fox News that he’s “disappointed” that the legislative process “doesn’t go quicker.” And he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the procedures in Congress and in particular the Senate are “unfair.”
The wide-eyed optimism right after the election which boasted that the new administration would repeal and replace Obamacare, rewrite the tax code and fund the border wall all before August have been replaced by groans over GOP divisions and bull-headed Democratic resistance. Now the spending bill that has been released has no funding for a wall and does not take funds from Planned Parenthood or sanctuary cities.
Sensing the loss of momentum and the frustration of the voting public, some Republicans are now urging party leaders to abandon the light summer calendar so that there can be more movement on legislation. “We have nine weeks until the August break. I’ve already started a conversation: I’m not sure that we should leave for the August break,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). “Because I don’t see how we get this all done by then.”
The best-case scenario is that the House is able to pass the Obamacare repeal and replace bill this week and get it to the Senate. But then it will most likely take a month or more to overhaul the legislation according to some sources who know the process. Therefore consideration of the new budget would be delayed, and soon we are looking at another threat of government shut-down in the Fall.
If the dialogue about tax reform gets pushed into an election year, the votes will take on much more significance. Democrats will undoubtedly accuse Republicans of slashing health care for the poor and cutting taxes for the wealthy. Pleasing the politician’s constituency will be the number one priority and compromise will be seen as weakness. “I want to see us pick up the pace,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). “I do think the Senate is not always the model of efficiency, and, in part, because the Founding Fathers designed it that way. But we can do better, and I think we need to.”
What do you think about the pace in the House and the Senate? Do you think the Republican agenda has a chance of moving forward before the end of this year?