President Donald Trump is on a roll and Republican lawmakers attending the party’s annual retreat are incredulous about his vitality. For the first time in over a decade, they are seeing a “politician” doing exactly what he said he would do, and fast.
It wasn’t noticeable in his first week which could only be described as rocky. He became unnecessarily embroiled in controversies over inauguration crowd size and voter fraud. Republicans began to cry out for more coordination between the Trump administration and Congress.
The retreat comes at a defining hour early in Trump’s presidency. Plans are being discussed concerning the repealing of Obamacare and enacting tax reform. The Republicans know all too well the anxiousness of many Democrats and a hostile media to see just one slip to make their entrance.
On Wednesday, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called on House committees to begin marking up legislation to repeal Obamacare to ready it for action on the House floor by late February or early March. This one piece of legislation is of particular sensitivity to the Democrats who passed it originally without a single Republican vote. It was hailed at the time by former President Obama as his “landmark legislation” for his legacy.
The agenda Republicans face also includes passing a second budget resolution in the spring to pave the way for passage of a tax reform package. Their hope is to see it through with their majority in the Senate and passage only taking 51 votes of the 52 they presently have.
Meanwhile, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) asked about Trump’s call for an investigation of massive voter fraud in the presidential election. He was reticent about placing this on the Republican “to-do list.” He also brought up Republican support reversing the ban on torture calling it “settled law.”
There is no doubt there is underlying skepticism about Trump’s fast paced timetable of issues he wants to address. The boisterous billionaire businessman has not won over nearly enough Republicans at this moment for a plurality of cooperation on all he wishes to achieve.
But Trump’s agenda is progressing at lightning speed, at least from the White House. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), the interim House Budget Committee chairwoman, told reporters the repeal package will include some reforms to replace Obamacare. But she warned others to beware of the Senate’s arcane procedural rules. Republicans can be sure their Democratic opposition is reading up on those rules already.
More mind-boggling legislation includes the start of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a centerpiece of Trump’s 2016 campaign platform. The president has already signed an executive order on Wednesday that will expedite construction hopefully within 200 days.
The wall, budget, tax reform, Obamacare, the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, immigration, China and their artificial islands in the South China Sea and North Korea. Behind closed doors, many Republicans are wondering if the president is attempting to bite off more than he can chew. This is the fastest start to a presidency that anyone in Washington can ever remember.