Leaders want to pass a “clean” debt ceiling increase, but GOP lawmakers aren’t all on board.
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WASHINGTON — With senators having wrapped up business for the month and joining the House on recess, they’re leaving behind a highly unproductive first half of the year. The Trump agenda has barely moved, despite the GOP enjoying a majority in both chambers of Congress and a Republican in the White House.
Republicans set out an ambitious agenda after President Trump’s surprising win in November. Lawmakers vowed to repeal Obamacare, reform the tax code, build up the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and help Trump build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. GOP leaders also promised to crack down on illegal immigration and roll back the banking regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act.
While the House has passed a few of those measures, none of the agenda items have passed the Senate. Instead, the single biggest piece of legislation passed out of both the House and Senate and signed into law by Trump — though begrudgingly — is a bipartisan bill that would increase sanctions on Russia and puts safeguards in place to keep the president from loosening them.
“We’re getting nothing done. All we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the floor late last month after a dramatic return to Washington following a brain cancer diagnosis. The conservative Gorsuch was only put on the court after Republicans changed Senate rules to allow Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority, rather than the usual 60-vote threshold.
“Democrats made it their goal in life to obstruct everything that we tried to do and that the administration tried to do. I think that’s probably the single major reason,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas told reporters last week when asked why more wasn’t accomplished in the first half of the year.
At various points within the year, Democrats did slow-walk Senate business, particularly on some of Trump’s nominees and GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare. However, in the most high-profile legislative fail, Republicans proved to be their own worst enemy.
After the stunning defeat to…