After meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday, President Donald J. Trump said their relationship is “better than ever,” and that they are working together on tax and healthcare reform legislation.
Speaking to the press in the Rose Garden, President Trump said he and McConnell have a unified agenda.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Trump said. “We’re fighting for big tax cuts. … My relationship with this gentleman has been outstanding.”
McConnell echoed the president’s remarks, saying, “We have the same agenda. … We talk all of the time.”
The president’s comment isn’t reflective of the feud he and McConnell had over the summer. Their war of words started after another attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare failed in August. Now, the president says the two men are working together on a measure to repeal and replace it by early next year.
Monday’s White House meeting marked the first face-to-face the two leaders have had since their public battle, in which President Trump said he was “very disappointed in Mitch” and McConnell said the president had “excessive expectations” about the way government works.
According to McConnell, in advance of the meeting, he was looking forward to discussions about topics not related to taxes and health care, as well, including budget resolution, judicial and other nominee confirmations, and hurricane relief funding.
After the meeting, McConnell confirmed they had discussed a wide range of subjects, including those mentioned, and said, “We are together totally on this agenda to move America forward.”
The two leaders spent roughly 30-minutes of the press conference talking about judicial nominations, during which McConnell said Justice Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the high court by President Trump was “the single most important thing the president has done.”
The unified showing from McConnell and Trump comes as conservative groups are pressuring McConnell and other congressional Republicans to leave their leadership posts to make way for candidates that aren’t considered “establishment.”
Ken Cuccinelli, who leads the Senate Conservatives Fund, said Wednesday: “We call on all five members of the GOP Senate leadership to step down, or for their caucus to remove them as soon as possible.”
However, Senate Republicans seem to be rallying around McConnell, who has been serving as a senator since 1985 and as the majority leader of the Senate since January 2015.
“Mitch McConnell’s not our problem,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Sunday. “Our problem is that we promised to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and we failed. We promised to cut taxes and we have yet to do it.”
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted “no” on a critical healthcare plan, as one of the GOP members to put the brakes on repeal efforts. She said Mitch McConnell is the Senate majority leader and that “the president needs him.”
“I’m glad they’re working together on tax reform and a lot of other issues,” Collins said.
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