Trump-McConnell declare truce despite reports of ongoing feud

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Published 24.08.2017 23:21
Updated 24.08.2017 23:22
President Donald Trump (R), flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, March 1
President Donald Trump (R), flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, March 1

President Trump can't enact his agenda without Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and McConnell may not have a majority to lead without Trump's support

U.S. President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday emphasized their plans to cooperate on shared goals, following weeks of tensions between the two Republicans.

McConnell responded to allegations of a 'Cold War' with President Donald Trump in a statement, saying that "The President and I, and our teams, have been and continue to be in regular contact about our shared goals," He also vowed to work together on tax reform, infrastructure, as well as keep the government open, pass military spending, and commit to finishing off Daesh.

He also said that the GOP is still committed to working out an Obamacare relief, echoing Trump's own comments.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are committed to advancing our shared agenda together and anyone who suggests otherwise is clearly not part of the conversation." McConnell stated.

The White House followed suit as Press Secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement of unity. "President Donald J. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell remain united on many shared priorities."

The strangest bedfellows in Washington are locked in an increasingly public and personal feud that defies conventional wisdom. The escalating tension between the two men is threatening the GOP's re-election prospects and its ability to govern. It has erupted at a high-stakes moment for the Republican Party, which is facing the prospect of a government shutdown — and the possibility it may fail to enact any major legislation during its first year in complete control of Washington.

The dispute is a reminder of the unconventional politics that have gripped the GOP in the Trump era. While Trump and McConnell ostensibly share the same philosophy, legislative agenda, voters and political opponents, they increasingly act more like adversaries than allies.

The intra-party feuding threatens nearly all of Trump's major priorities, including his near-daily campaign trail pledge to build a southern border wall.

While Trump threatened Tuesday to force a federal shutdown unless Congress provides funds for the massive project, many GOP lawmakers, especially moderates, lack his passion for the proposal. They may be harder to win over given the current rancorous atmosphere.

It could complicate the task of rallying Republicans around complicated tax legislation, where lawmakers can have divergent priorities.

"In politics, it's a mistake to personalize things, particularly if it's a member of your own team," veteran Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said Wednesday. "The reality is you're going to need them down the road."

Trump and McConnell "remain united on many shared priorities" and they and other top officials will hold "previously scheduled meetings" after Congress returns from its August recess, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday in a statement. She said their goals include middle-class tax cuts, building the border wall and strengthening the military.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are committed to advancing our shared agenda together and anyone who suggests otherwise is clearly not part of the conversation," McConnell said in his own statement.

McConnell is an unrelenting GOP loyalist who's mastered Senate rules and the legislative process, while Trump has shaken up the Republicans, which is part of the reason why he won the election.

The divisions are "unprecedented," said Republican pollster Chris Wilson.

Wilson said he thought the party could survive Trump's political struggles in 2018, in part because so few races are being fought in competitive terrain. Democrats seeking the House majority have limited opportunities to pick up new seats given the way many congressional districts have been redrawn by Republican-led state legislatures and Republicans expect gains among 10 states carried by Trump where Democrats currently serve.

Wilson also noted the division between Trump and his party is so clear, many voters don't necessarily link the two.

"He does his own job of separating himself from the Republican brand," Wilson said.

But it would be "catastrophic," he said, if Trump and the Republican-led Congress fail to enact meaningful legislation now that they have total control of Washington.

Despite the numerous Republicans who are unwilling to work with Trump, as evidenced by the administration's failure to pass certain bills through the Senate, the President makes no secret of his criticism of the GOP, as he had done during the campaign; but he also calls for patriotism in the face of disunity.

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