WASHINGTON — Senators are leaving Washington this week for the remainder of the summer, with little legislation to show for seven months of work and an angry president blaming them for the country’s strained relationship with Russia and the continued existence of Obamacare.
Trump tweeted Thursday morning that U.S.-Russia relations were at an all-time low following the passage of a bill that reinforced sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. The president signed the bill on Wednesday morning.
“You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!” he wrote, presumably referring to both Democrats and Republicans, although his own party controls both houses. The House of Representatives recessed on July 28.
Several Republican senators pushed back, saying relations between the U.S. and Russia were poisoned by Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 elections — an episode Trump has minimized in public.
“I’d thank Putin for that, not Congress,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told reporters. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and others made similar statements.
But lawmakers also admitted that they had not gotten as much done as they had hoped to with both the White House and legislature in their control.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to repeal parts of Obamacare failed by just one vote on the Senate floor. Trump wants them to try again, but much of the conference is moving on to tax reform, which the White House also wants done by the end of the year. At the same time, there are must-pass bills coming up to fund the government and to increase the government’s borrowing limit.
“We’re getting nothing done, my friends. We’re getting nothing done,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the Senate floor last month, urging his colleagues to rise above their dysfunction and partisanship.
The Senate has rolled back more than a dozen Obama-era regulations and pushed through a Supreme Court nominee along with dozens of other nominations. But their grander ambitions on health care, tax reform and infrastructure have stalled, as a bare majority of Republicans attempt to push through that legislation without Democrats. According to the Washington Post, the Senate has passed fewer than 10 bills this session that require a roll call vote — a stunningly small output.
“It’s not good enough, we’ve got to do better,” said Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. He conceded the “ball is in our court” on repealing and…