Trump Setting Up Congress To Take The Fall When Legislation Falters

President Donald Trump speaks during an event to sign a memorandum calling for a trade investigation of China, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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President Donald Trump on Friday morning continued his campaign to blame Congress for any upcoming struggle to pass major legislation.

In a tweet published before 7 a.m., Trump urged the Senate to nuke the legislative filibuster, one of Trump’s obsessions. He blamed the filibuster for the Senate’s failure to pass Obamacare repeal, even though the chamber was using the reconciliation process to avoid Democrats’ filibuster and pass the bill with a simple majority. There’s not much interest in the Senate to change the rule, so Trump can use the filibuster to repeatedly blame Republican senators for his stalled agenda.

The Friday morning tweet was just the latest in a feud between Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), which spilled into public view this week. The President has taken several shots at McConnell on Twitter, largely lashing out at him over the Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare this summer. Even after the White House tried to quell reports that Trump and McConnell were locked in an intense feud, Trump continued to attack the Senate leader publicly.

Trump also preemptively placed blame on Congressional leaders for any struggle Republicans will have in raising the debt ceiling in September. The issue is always a difficult one for Republicans, as many hard-line conservatives outright oppose raising the debt ceiling. And in a Thursday morning tweet, Trump claimed that McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) did not listen to his ideas on how to pass a debt ceiling bill, leaving Congress with a “mess.”

It’s unusual for a president to so publicly feud with Congressional leaders of his own party, but it appears that Trump’s attacks may be part of a strategy, even if it’s not a good one.

An unnamed outside adviser to Trump told the Washington Post Thursday that Trump is very purposefully setting GOP leaders on Capitol Hill up to take the blame as the President’s agenda continues to stall in the fall. This would help Trump in the future, such as in his 2020 re-election bid, the adviser told the Washington Post.

Members of Congress have surmised as much. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Thursday said that Trump’s attacks on Congress are not “crazy” but part of a “political strategy” meant to push Congress to support his agenda.

Trump does plan to meet with congressional leaders when they return to Washington, D.C. in September, despite his constant pot shots, Politico reported.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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