Saddled with their wildly unpopular tax bill, GOP leadership is scrambling to point to any achievements.
Panicked about a looming midterm lashing, the GOP’s do-nothing Congress suddenly wants to get something done — literally anything to show voters there’s a reason they should be sent back to Washington, D.C., in November.
“We need some more wins,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker told Axios. “We can’t just talk about Neil Gorsuch and tax cuts from here to November.”
The scramble comes after reports have already noted Republicans look like they’ve given up defending the House, and have desperately shifted time and resources toward hanging on to the Senate.
Of course, backslapping Republicans last December thought they had mapped out their re-election strategy by passing a tax giveaway bill to billionaires and corporations. But it turns out there are a lot of non-billionaires who vote, and they don’t think much of the Republican legislation.
The bill remains wildly unpopular with voters, most of whom don’t think they’ll ever see any dividends.
“We need to be delivering on the promises we made to the voters. We need to continue to deliver on tax reform, on regulatory reform, on Obamacare, on judges, and we need to be focusing on jobs, jobs, jobs,” says Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who is locked in a re-election dog fight.
The harsh reality for Republicans is there’s virtually no chance any significant legislation will be passed between now and November. Republicans enjoy no Democratic support for its agenda in either the House or the Senate, as the GOP’s utterly failed attempts to repeal Obamacare illustrated.
Plus, Trump’s record of scatterbrained reactions to policy means there’s little chance he’ll remain committed to any legislation over the coming weeks that could help Republicans get things done.
Republican leaders say they’ll be stressing that members helped put Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. But a Republican president and a Republican-led Congress appointing and confirming a conservative judge to the Supreme Court is just about the absolutely minimum Republicans ought be able to achieve.
In the House, Democrats have to flip 24 seats to take control next year.
Last Tuesday’s special election in Arizona’s 8th District was just the latest warning sign for the GOP. The contest was held in a deeply conservative enclave, but Republicans squeaked out just a five-point victory in a district that voted for Trump by 21 points a year-and-a-half ago. Indeed, Democrats hadn’t even bothered fielding a House candidate there since 2012.
And it’s not just the House that’s leaking oil. Senate Democratic candidates in deeply red states such as Missouri, Indiana, and Montana currently enjoy large fundraising advantages over local Republicans.
It’s probably too late for today’s do-nothing Congress to fix its reputation. And voters get to decide on that in November.