Trump ally Gingrich defends McConnell as president continues on tear over health care defeat
ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, defended Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell against the president’s criticism over Senate Republicans’ failure to pass health care legislation.
Gingrich, who met recently with the president, also suggested that Trump bears some responsibility for Republicans’ failure to deliver on their signature promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“The fact is with a very narrow margin — 52 people — Mitch McConnell got 49 out of 52. I think the president can’t disassociate himself from this,” Gingrich, who met recently with Trump, said in an interview with reporters on Thursday morning. “[Trump] is part of the leadership team. He is not an observer sitting up in the stands. He is on the field. It was a collective failure.”
Gingrich’s comments come as Trump continues on a tear against McConnell following the Senate Republican leader’s publicly bemoaning what he called the president’s “excessive expectations” on passing a new health care law.
The president tweeted Thursday morning that McConnell has “screamed” for seven years about the need to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act but “couldn’t get it done.”
Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2017
The tweet continued a theme Trump began Wednesday when he questioned why Republicans haven’t been able to repeal and replace Obamacare — an effort that began soon after the law was passed in 2010 — despite now controlling Congress and the executive branch.
Senator Mitch McConnell said I had “excessive expectations,” but I don’t think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
Trump’s comments came after McConnell at a Rotary Club gathering in Kentucky on Monday said the president’s pressure to move quickly on the party’s agenda was behind the public’s perception that Republicans haven’t accomplished much despite their control of two government branches.
“Part of the reason I think that the story line is that we haven’t done much is because, in part, the president and others have set these early timelines about things need to be done by a certain point,” said McConnell.
McConnell also suggested that Trump’s lack of government experience explained his high hopes.
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before. And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process,” said McConnell. “So part of the reason I think people feel we’re under-performing is because too many artificial deadlines — unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating — may not have been fully understood.”
The monthslong congressional Republican health care reform effort was dealt a serious setback on July 27 when legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act was defeated by a single vote in the GOP-controlled Senate. Trump has since called for Republicans to continue their attempts, though any work on the matter would have to wait until Congress returns from its August recess.
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