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Senate GOP Memo to Trump: Don’t Rock the Boat

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Being risk averse will speed up your acceptance into the GOP’s ‘good old boys’ club—also known as the United States Senate. If you ingratiate yourself with fear of ever going near anything that might give the left cause to attack—as if the left needs a reason to excoriate conservatives—your acceptance will be welcome with open arms. 

When the Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress, and Donald Trump was elected president, I along with most people who wanted a different kind of Washington D.C. were cautiously optimistic. I believed the ingredients were in place to usher in a different type of atmosphere than the current one that has plagued the swamp for the last half-century. I remember then-Speaker Paul Ryan saying the voters had given them an opportunity and it was time to be big and bold in governing. I thought, wow this could be huge. There was so much potential—like a chance to repeal Obamacare and passing a pro-gun control agenda including national concealed carry reciprocity. There was an opportunity to lower taxes—which they did but with a 10-year sunset clause. There was a chance to agree to Trump’s trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and an opportunity to finally fix our broken immigration system and seal our southern border. The potential was on the horizon for an infrastructure bill to address our crumbling roads and aging bridges. Then reality set in.

With every passing day, there are constant reminders that Congress is a broken branch. It’s a dysfunctional body—not because of party politics—rather how much the status quo is defended. Nothing moves fast; they work very few actual days and always seem to be on some recess. The only thing that both Democrats and Republicans on the Hill can agree on is that big and bold is highly discouraged. Trump’s kind of aggressive mindset is anathema to the snail-like pace that goes on in Washington D.C.

Everybody running as a Republican for Congress in the last several election cycles ran on repealing the Un-Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. However, when the time came, it fell one vote short and a Republican cast the deciding vote that killed it. 

With the Mueller witch-hunt behind him, President Trump several weeks ago brought up the subject of getting rid of Obamacare. He reminded the GOP-led Senate that they all ran on repealing and raising money on killing it and it was time to live up to their word to voters and keep their promise.  Trump not surprisingly received a reminder of what Washington is really like. It’s all talk and minimal action. The term “promises made, promises kept” that has been the trademark of the Trump administration is foreign to members of Congress. That’s just campaign rhetoric as far as they are concerned. No one does what they say they will after getting elected.

The reaction by the GOP and Mitch McConnell after Trump raised the specter of going back after Obamacare was typical of the response of someone whose hair starts on fire. McConnell publicly told the president that the Senate was not going to take up Obamacare basically signaling that it is here to stay at least until the Democrats get full control and force single payer down our throats. That’s coming folks.

Need more proof of the risk-averse nature of Congress, particularly the GOP?

Several Republicans claimed they were blindsided by the president’s decision to fire DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, her Deputy Secretary and communications director and the head of the Secret Service. Several Republicans said they hoped that Trump would not clean house at DHS.   Republican Senator John Cornyn called Trump’s presidency “non-traditional.”  That is dog whistle for saying that bold and aggressive doesn’t fit the Washington way. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said the DHS moves were unsettling and for the system to work there had to be checks and balances. The problem is that the system doesn’t work, senator. It’s broken. These guys are not happy that Trump is redefining the presidency with his get-things-done-approach to governing. The establishment does not like the culture change Trump has brought to D.C., and they don’t care for this Washington outsider forcing the change. Their “this is not the way we do things around here” mindset is driving themselves crazy. 

The reaction by the GOP Senate to Trump’s nomination of Herman Cain to sit on the board of governors at the Federal Reserve was immediately put in peril when four GOP Senators in knee-jerk fashion said they would vote against his nomination. I can’t remember Democrats ever publicly speaking out against moves made by Barack Obama including his decision to send 150 million dollars to help Iran obtain nukes. For the most part, Democrats understand the concept of one team, one goal.

Other stories have emerged about the angst establishment Republicans are having with President Trump. One commented that GOP senators were facing an inflection point as the GOP Senate weighed how hard to try to contain the president. That’s laughable. You don’t control Trump. His asymmetrical approach to governing is just what the doctor (his voters) ordered. With their obstruction and obstinacy to Trump re-ordering his staff and his nominations for other positions, you would think he has to get it by Chuck Schumer. Some days I believe Schumer is the de facto Senate Majority Leader. If the Senate GOP is concerned about what the voters think about Trump’s style, let me clue them in. We love it.

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