When Republican lawmakers return to Washington, D.C. on Monday following a weeklong break, they will be faced with the reality that they and President Trump are nearly halfway through their first year in power and they have yet to achieve a major legislative victory.
“We just need to work harder,” said second-ranking Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas in a radio interview during the recess.
As of now, the Republican Party’s major agenda items remain undone, including repealing and replacing ObamaCare and reforming taxes. Although Trump claimed in a recent tweet that his tax plan is ahead of schedule, critics contend that it is unwritten and in dispute.
On Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, “The president keeps saying the tax bill is moving through Congress. It doesn’t exist. There is no tax bill moving through Congress.”
Time for Republican lawmakers to move on healthcare and tax reform this year is quickly running out with only seven legislative weeks remaining. Congress is planning to leave for a five-week August recess during which they will likely lose momentum on reform efforts and have to face frustrated constituents complaining that they have not delivered on their promises.
Due to procedural issues, tax legislation must follow the passage of a budget, also a contentious hurdle.
Additionally, lawmakers are behind on the annual spending legislation needed to keep the government running, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently informing them that they will have to raise the federal government’s borrowing limit before August.
Overshadowing the Republican agenda is the investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and purported Russian connections with the Trump campaign.
“The Russia investigation takes a lot of oxygen, it takes a lot of attention,” said Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a veteran legislator.
The Russia investigations have masked some notable Republican accomplishments to date including overturning numerous Obama regulations, reaching compromise in May on spending legislation for the remainder of the 2017 budget year that featured a large increase for defense, and the Senate confirmation in early April of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
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