White House relationship with the GOP is ‘fine,’ press secretary says
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Amid reports of a fractured alliance between President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a White House spokeswoman on Thursday disputed that there was tension between the two men.
“I think the relationships are fine,” press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at the day’s briefing. “Certainly there are going to be some policy differences, but there are also a lot of shared goals and that’s what we’re focused on.”
She continued, “We’re disappointed that Obamacare — they failed to get it repealed and replaced. But at the same time, President Trump has worked with leader McConnell to reach out to other members and to work on those shared goals and we’re going continue to do that when the Senate comes back from recess.”
In recent weeks, the president repeatedly criticized McConnell for the Senate Republicans’ failure last month to pass a health care reform bill and openly mused about the possibility of McConnell relinquishing his post.
Sanders was also asked about comments made last week by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who called for the administration to make “radical changes” and said Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate that he needs to be successful.”
“I think that’s a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn’t dignify a response from this podium,” Sanders responded.
As recently as Thursday morning, Trump tweeted his unhappiness with McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, expressing disapproval over their failure to “tie debt ceiling legislation into” a bill reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs.
On Wednesday, both the White House and McConnell’s office issued statements that seemed to refute reports of a division between them.
“President Donald J. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell remain united on many shared priorities,” according to a statement from the White House. “They will hold previously scheduled meetings following the August recess to discuss these critical items with members of the congressional leadership and the President’s Cabinet.”
“The president and I, and our teams, have been and continue to be in regular contact about our shared goals,” McConnell’s office said. “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 and Ryan are both opposed to Trump’s demand that the federal government be allowed to shut down if funding for a southern border wall is not included in a spending bill.
“I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown,” Ryan said Wednesday before also acknowledging that he thinks “the president feels that is a strategy that works for him.”
“I would just say it’s important we stay unified,” he said. The longest shutdown lasted 21 days during fiscal year 1996.
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