The Republican fortress that was created by a majority in both the House and Senate as well as a Republican president in the White House may be crumbling at its foundation. Senate Republicans may be showing signs of breaking away from the president and trying to forge a more traditional Republican agenda. They may also be trying to protect their political fortunes. Republican leaders are increasingly being unnerved by Trump’s perceived volatility and unpopularity. Some have openly questioned Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, and even those who supported his decision have complained privately about the timing and the disruption to their work. Republican leaders were also frustrated that the president seemed to threaten Comey about leaking negative information about him.
Republicans in the Senate are working hard to draft a health care bill with little or no input from the White House. They want to avoid the PR pit that the House fell into as it drafted a very unpopular bill. They are also pushing back on President Trump’s budget request. They don’t want to eliminate funding for the national drug control office in the face of a mounting opioid epidemic; and they are voicing concern about any move to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
While there is no mass movement to buck the president, there are indeed increasing ripples of discord. “All the work that goes into getting big things done is hard enough even in the most tranquil of environments in Washington,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican operative who worked for John A. Boehner when he was the House speaker. “But distractions like these can become a serious obstacle to aligning the interests of Congress.” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who has been trying to advance health care legislation, said in a television interview on Thursday night, “It does seem like we have an upheaval, a crisis almost every day in Washington that changes the subject.”
This is no where near the optimism the Republican party expressed at the beginning of Trump’s presidency. “We’re going to be an enthusiastic supporter almost all the time,” Mr. McConnell said of Mr. Trump in November. But Republicans have achieved only a few of their legislative priorities. Two Republican senators who are facing a very tough re-election fight next year, Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona, have been highly critical of President Trump and his administration. They clearly view his leadership as a negative in their political future. “In Arizona, we grow them independent,” Mr. Flake said. “I expect people want someone who will say, ‘I’m voting with Trump on the good stuff and standing up to him on the not good stuff.’”
Do you think this ripple is going to become a current within the Republican party?
Credit: New York Times