Congressional Republicans began the year with a long and ambitious list of priorities that had been sidelined during eight years of President Barack Obama's tenure. Five months in, the GOP policy agenda is lagging far behind their expectations. A slower-than-anticipated process of confirming President Donald Trump's nominees, the bruising effort to pass a health-care reform plan in the House and the ongoing controversy coming from the White House over expanding investigations into Russia have slowed any momentum the party had coming out of last year's election.
And time is not on their side. Congress has just seven weeks of work before the beginning of August when they take five weeks off to return to their districts. The fall legislative agenda will be filled with the battle over funding the government before the new fiscal year on October 1 — the one thing on their agenda that Congress is Constitutionally tasked with doing. And January begins another critical election year for lawmakers, making tough legislation even more difficult to pass.
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With Congress out for the rest of this week, the president registered his opinion on the slow pace of progress, advocating for a change in Senate rules that would allow legislation such as tax reform and health care to pass with a simple majority.
@realdonaldtrump: The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said he's not interested in changing the Senate rules from the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation to a 51-vote majority. In addition, the two pieces of legislation Trump cited are attached to a rarely used legislative maneuver called reconciliation that already allows for those bills to pass with a simple majority.
As Congress heads into the summer months, here's a progress report on the GOP agenda: