Donald Trump has managed to achieve what no president in recent memory can claim. During the first seven months of his presidency, he has been unable to get Congress to pass one single piece of significant legislation that he supported. In fact, the only bill of any importance that passed both houses of Congress nearly unanimously was the Russia Sanctions Bill – which Trump strongly opposed.
Even presidents who did not control Congress were able to achieve legislative victories. But then they, unlike Donald Trump, did not label their legislation “mean” as Trump did with the healthcare bill before the Senate. While Trump ranted and raved against the “unfair” 60 vote requirement for most bills, House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was at least honest enough to admit that changing the Senate rules would have made no difference. The GOP leaders in the Senate were unable to garner the bare minimum of 50 votes required for passage. And despite Trump’s urgings for the Senate to stay in session until a healthcare reform bill passes (while he takes a 17-day vacation) the reality is that healthcare reform, at this present time, is dead in the water.
The House and the Senate are now taking the rest of August off – which is traditional in D.C. Anyone who has ever lived in our nation’s capitol during the summer can certainly understand their wanting to get the hell out of town. But in a remarkable move that might go unnoticed by those who don’t follow politics closely, both the House and the Senate will still remain “officially” in session, holding what are called pro-forma meetings every three days. This tactic, especially in the Senate, effectively prevents Trump from making any recess appointments while the Senate is out of town.
Republicans successfully used this tactic against President Obama. What is remarkable is that they are employing it against their own president. And that the vote in the Senate was unanimous. In a sense, they are protecting one of their own. Now there is no way that Trump can fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appoint a replacement for him without confirmation by the Senate.
Other cracks in the GOP support of Donald Trump are also showing. There have been two, separate, bi-partisan bills introduced in the Senate to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller, should Trump decide to have him fired. The first was introduced by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Cory Booker. Graham said “Our bill allows judicial overview of any decision to terminate a counsel to make sure it’s done for the reasons cited in the regulations rather than political motivation.” A second bill introduced by Republican Senator Thom Tillis and Democratic Senator Chris Coons would provide similar safeguards.
Last week Republican Senator Jeff Flake published excerpts from his forthcoming book “The Conscience of a Conservative.” In it, he takes to task many of his fellow Republicans for their support of Donald Trump, referring to it as a “Faustian deal.” He wrote this book in secret to avoid having any of his staff or others try to dissuade him. Flake, as many know, is up for re-election in Arizona in 2018 and received considerable pressure to support the Senate healthcare reform bill. He did vote for the legislation, but his colleague from Arizona Senator John McCain cast the deciding vote to kill the bill.
In addition to the politicians, many right leaning media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal have begun to publish articles that cannot be considered Trump-friendly. Peggy Noonan’s scathing denunciation of Trump in the WSJ may provide the much-needed cover for other journalists to speak their minds openly. Even the well-known Drudge Report, which has been squarely in Trump’s corner for months, has begun reporting negative stories, such as the recent Rasmussen poll showing Trump’s approval rating dropping into the 30 percent range. This poll, along with Gallup and Quinnipiac also show his approval among Republican waters dropping below 60 percent. These are dangerous waters for any president, as well as the politicians who support him.
Each week, each day brings only more bad news for Trump, his family, and his administration. The Scaramucci fiasco, the news that Mueller has empanelled a grand jury, the leaks of transcripts with his calls to the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Australia – any one of which would be enough to bring down a previous administration – indicate that Trump and his presidency are in serious trouble.
But instead of taking his message to the people (not just the people of West Virginia) or reaching out to members of Congress to work together, Trump leaves today for a 17-day vacation at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. It is highly doubtful he will leave his cell phone behind, thus sparing the country for a least a few days respite from his Twitter tantrums.
In the meantime, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced that he fully intends to go ahead with his pet project of a major and massive overhaul of the tax system in the U.S. and that he intends to complete it by the end of the year. If a Republican-controlled Congress cannot deliver on a seven-year promise to repeal and replace Obamacare in eight months, they ain’t seen nothing yet when they try get tax reform enacted before the end of the year.
This week’s cover for Newsweek Magazine pretty much sums up how the majority of Americans view the Trump Presidency: