After a rough and largely unproductive six months working together, Mitch McConnell let Donald Trump have it. Somewhat.
The Senate majority leader criticized the president during a Rotary Club dinner in Kentucky on Monday, complaining that his lack of political experience has led “excessive expectations” of what Congress can do.
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before. And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process,” McConnell told the group. “So part of the reason I think people feel we’re underperforming is because too many artificial deadlines — unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating — may not have been fully understood.”
The Kentucky senator also said it was “extremely irritating” that Congress has a reputation as do-nothing. “Part of the reason I think that the storyline is that we haven’t done much is because, in part, the president and others have set these early timelines about things need to be done by a certain point,” said McConnell.
McConnell pointed out Trump has made declarations about the status of legislation that didn’t reflect reality. As the House was negotiating its Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill in February, Trump declared Congress was in the “final stages” and it would be ready for “submitting” the next month. The legislation was only unveiled in March, then voting didn’t happen until May and lasted until July, when the bill collapsed.
Trump then faulted Republicans for not passing the legislation, when he had not done much to cajole them into passing it, or to sell the public on it.
It’s the second time in the last week that the president has faced unusually sharp criticism from a member of his party. On Saturday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spoke with the New York Times about how Republicans feel about Trump running again in 2020. “They see weakness in this president,” McCain said. “Look, it’s not a nice business we’re in.”