Senate Republicans Are Growing Exhausted and Ornery About Their Party's Inability to Govern
There are some cranky old men in the Senate leadership, frustrated that they wasted seven months on an Affordable Care Act repeal effort that failed—after seven years of promising they'd make it happen and doing nothing—and now faced with trying to bring back a fractured caucus to pass tax reform, the next big thing they promised. The problem is that popular vote loser Donald Trump is still threatening to sabotage Obamacare, and some Republicans believe he has to be stopped. Which is making other Republicans very cranky. From Politico:
President Donald Trump has dropped hints that he might stop the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reduction payments, through which federal funds flow to insurance companies to keep down coverage costs for low-income people.
At the same time, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the health committee chairman, is working with Democrats on potential measures to shore up the health care law.
That’s left key Senate tax writers frustrated that there’s potentially another issue to take precious time away from their tax reform efforts. Senators left Washington on Thursday for a monthlong recess and will return to a September already overloaded with legislative deadlines. […]
"We're not going back to health care. We're in tax now. As far as I'm concerned, they shot their wad on health care and that's the way it is. I'm sick of it," Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Wednesday, a day before he outlined his committee's agenda for the fall.
Hatch's hissy fit aside, there's plenty of other stuff that Congress has to do in September, like pass a debt ceiling hike and a funding package to keep government running when it runs out at the end of that month. Additionally, funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program runs out at the end of the month, and the National Flood Insurance Program and the Federal Aviation Administration will have to be reauthorized so they can continue to be funded. On top of that, plenty of senators think that it's their responsibility to not let Trump wreck the individual health insurance market and have tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people losing health insurance. Whether Hatch likes it or not, other stuff is going to have to happen.
But his discontent is a reflection of the wider problem the Republicans are having—namely, they can't govern. With the House, Senate, and White House all in Republican hands, the first half of this year was supposed to have been an extremist utopia, with all their destructive hopes and dreams coming true. It turns out that perhaps Republicans can't walk and chew gum at the same time, not when either of those activities involves actual governing.