President Donald Trump slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Twitter for the second day in a row Thursday over the failure of Congress to overhaul the nation’s health care system, escalating a war of words with the key Republican.
“Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done,” Trump tweeted. “Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!”
Trump attacked McConnell on Wednesday for saying the president had “excessive expectations” that the Senate could pass a stripped-down version of a GOP ACA change bill last month. McConnell said Monday in his home state of Kentucky that one reason some people believe Congress hasn’t done much yet “is because, in part, the president and others have set these early timelines about — things need to be done by a certain point.”
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before, and I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process,” said McConnell.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed to reporters Thursday in Bridgewater, New Jersey, near the president’s golf resort, that Trump and McConnell spoke by phone on Wednesday before Trump sent the first tweet. “Health care was obviously discussed,” she said without giving further details.
The public spat has some Republicans calling for calm as Congress is poised to take on an array of tough issues next month, including the debt ceiling, appropriations and taxes. Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said on CNN that he didn’t want to take sides and that McConnell and Trump need each other to press on with the party’s agenda. Cole said not repealing Obamacare was a congressional failure, not a presidential one. However, he said, “This isn’t a time we need to throw rocks at one another.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, on Thursday defended McConnell on Fox News. “The president can’t disassociate himself with this,” Gingrich said of the health care vote. “It was a collective failure.”