A Humiliating Week for Trump, McConnell, Ryan
February 18, 2017
Though President Trump and his allies in Congress have managed to humiliate themselves dozens of times in the first 4 weeks of the Trump presidency, this week is a new low water mark.
Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor spent weeks running away from a record of cheating workers out of overtime pay, working to deny them breaks and health insurance, opposing the minimum wage, and failing to pay employment taxes for an undocumented worker in his own house. Andy Puzder also faced disturbing accusations that he abused his ex-wife. But even on the morning Puzder withdrew his nomination, Mitch McConnell told reporters he was “a strong supporter of Andy Puzder.”
Behind the scenes, however, Puzder’s chances were going down in flames as at least a dozen Republican senators withdrew their support for Puzder. On Wednesday afternoon, Puzder withdrew his nomination. It was a major blow for the Trump White House and its allies in the Senate.
Washington Post: “In the hours before Puzder withdrew, 12 Republican senators “at a minimum” were withholding support…The quick erosion of support compelled Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to tell the White House on Wednesday that Puzder lacked the support needed to survive.”
USA Today: “[Lamar Alexander] said he alerted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that Puzder did not have the votes to win confirmation. McConnell then notified the White House, Alexander said, and Puzder withdrew from consideration Wednesday afternoon.”
McConnell last week: “I think that Andy Puzder is an outstanding choice. I’m enthusiastically in support of him.”
On the other side of the U.S. Capitol, things are going even worse for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Ryan’s attempts to get Senate Republicans on board with his tax reform strategy backfired bigly. After a Republican Senate Caucus meeting with Ryan on Tuesday, Senator Tom Cotton took to the Senate floor to trash Ryan’s strategy. Another colleague, John Cornyn declared the Ryan tax reform plan was on “life support.” One thing currently unites Senate Democrats and Republicans, and it’s their dislike of Ryan’s plan.
Ryan has also hit a wall with his attempts to dismantle the popular Affordable Care Act. It seems the House’s right wing and far-right wing can’t agree on which way to destroy the health care system. Unfortunately for Americans, the Republicans’ intra-party squabbling and Executive Orders are already damaging health care by creating confusion and uncertainty. Their disagreements have real consequences, however. Senate Republicans from states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act know it's a lifeline for many of their constituents and are weary of plans to repeal it.