McConnell praised Trump's appointments as changing the country
He deferred to Trump on a bipartisan health care bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that President Donald Trump is “getting a lot more done” than his criticism of the slow-moving Senate would suggest.
“I think he’s getting a lot more done than he’s giving everybody credit for,” McConnell said. “I think his appointments, as I’ve said earlier, are absolutely changing the country.”
McConnell’s remarks come as Trump continues to criticize the news media for what he has repeatedly called unfair coverage that ignores his positive achievements, including what he says is the impact of his policies on the US economy. Trump has tended to describe his plans and accomplishments in superlatives, claiming credit for the low unemployment rate and rallying stock market.
McConnell’s comments Sunday played into that view, and also come as Trump again on Monday pinned the blame for a lack of progress on Republican agenda items, such as health care reform, on the Senate rather than himself.
“We are not getting the job done,” Trump said when a reporter asked about comments his former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, made at the Value Voters Summit in Washington last weekend. “And I am not going to blame myself, they are not getting the job done. We had health care approved, and then you had the surprise vote by John McCain. We have had other things happen, and they are not getting the job done, and I can understand where Steve Bannon is coming from.”
Bannon has pledged to wage war on the Republican establishment by mounting primary challenges against GOP incumbents.
Trump’s remarks Monday echoed similar comments he has made over the last several months, although the President pivoted shortly after in a joint news conference with McConnell, where he talked up their relationship and said the two leaders were”closer than ever before” and have the same policy goals.
In the interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, McConnell brushed off Trump’s past attacks on him and said, when asked, that he viewed the President as a partner. The Kentucky Republican also emphasized that he stood ready to steer the Senate toward the President’s goals, including on health care.
“What I’m waiting is to hear from President Trump what kind of health care bill he might sign,” McConnell said.
Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray unveiled a bipartisan list of supporters of their legislation to restore cost-sharing reduction payments and increase state flexibility on Obamacare rules.
Trump offered a mixed response to the legislation, and the White House said it wanted more from the bill, particularly elements of an Obamacare repeal, before it could get behind the effort.
Asked on Sunday if he would bring the bill to the floor, McConnell deferred to Trump.
“If there’s a need for some kind of interim step here to stabilize the market, we need a bill the President will actually sign,” McConnell said. “And I’m not certain yet what the President’s looking for here, but I’ll be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump will sign it.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that McConnell should bring the Alexander-Murray bill to the floor “immediately.”
“This is a good compromise,” Schumer said. “It took months to work out. It has a majority. It has 60 senators supporting it. We have all 48 Democrats, 12 Republicans. I would urge Senator McConnell to put it on the floor immediately, this week. It will pass and it will pass by a large number of votes.”
McConnell said he did not know the President’s position on the legislation because Trump had yet to make a final decision.
The White House announced earlier this month that the administration would stop making the payments, which are geared to help low-income people access care, and pushed the issue to Congress. Trump has criticized the payments as subsidies for insurance companies.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.