White House: Senate should stop taking vacations

Olivier Knox
Chief Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON — The White House on Tuesday brushed aside concerns that President Trump’s regular attacks on prominent congressional Republicans may be hurting his legislative agenda by alienating important allies, then scolded lawmakers for spending so much time outside of Washington.

“He’s calling on Congress to get their job done. They’re on another vacation right now,” Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, told reporters at her daily briefing. “I think that we would all be a lot better off if the Senate would stop taking vacations and start staying here until we get actually get some real things accomplished. The president’s here and committed to working with them to do that.”

The Senate is out of session this week. But Trump is no slouch in the vacation department: A Washington Post analysis in August found that he has taken roughly triple the amount of the leisure time Barack Obama had taken by the same point in his presidency.

Sanders had been asked about the impact of Trump’s propensity to wage public fights against Republicans in Congress. In the latest dust-up, the president and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker have traded barbs. On Tuesday, Trump mocked “Liddle’ Bob Corker,” perhaps responding to Corker’s jab that the White House has become an “adult day care center.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on Oct. 10, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Some observers have questioned the wisdom of feuding with Republicans when the party’s narrow 52-48 seat edge in the Senate means losing just three GOP votes for a piece of legislation almost certainly spells its defeat.

But Sanders disputed the idea that the president bore responsibility for any bad blood.

“I don’t think he’s alienated anyone; I think that Congress has alienated themselves by not actually getting the job done that the people of this country elected them to do,” she said.

“They all promised and campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare; they haven’t done that. They campaigned on tax reform; hopefully we see that happen — we’re certainly committed to that and think we’ll get there,” Sanders told reporters. “But time and time, again Congress has made promises and failed to deliver. If anyone is being alienated, it’s people that are promising things and not delivering.”

Since his January inauguration, Trump has tweeted harsh words about Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Sens. John McCain, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski and Corker, among others.

While those attacks have left lawmakers and aides confounded and annoyed, it’s not clear that the rebukes have had much of an impact on cooperation between the White House and the GOP majority in Congress. While Trump is broadly unpopular with the U.S. public in general, he retains the support of a large majority of Republican voters — the same voters GOP lawmakers will need in the 2018 midterm elections.

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