President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are scheduled to have lunch Monday. It is expected to be a contentious meeting. The president and the majority leader will discuss the Senate’s fall agenda, which includes passing the budget resolution, passing tax reform, confirming judicial nominations, and continuing hurricane relief efforts.
Over the summer, the relationship between these two top Republicans deteriorated when Sen. McConnell accused the president of having “excessive expectations” of what the Senate could accomplish after the 52 Senate Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare. Trump fired back at McConnell, criticizing him for breaking a seven-year promise.
The purpose of Monday’s meeting is to figure out how the Senate can move Trump’s agenda from campaign stump speeches into law. Here are three things Trump should tell McConnell to make America great again.
1. Restore the filibuster.
President Trump has repeatedly called for the Senate to end its legislative filibuster rule and pass legislation with a simple majority of 51 votes. Sen. McConnell has repeatedly refused to do so. President Trump should push for a compromise.
Instead of eliminating the filibuster, the Senate should restore it. In the 1970s, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield changed the filibuster rules to create a “two-track” system that allows the Senate to bypass a filibustered bill and move on to another. Trump should push for McConnell to reverse this rule change, restoring the filibuster to its historical function and forcing senators to do the work of standing up and talking themselves hoarse to stop bills they don’t like.
This compromise would preserve the filibuster as a powerful protection for whichever party is in the minority while allowing the majority party to conduct its agenda without obstruction.
2. Fund Trump’s priorities.
The Senate will take up the fiscal 2018 budget resolution this week, and it’s expected to pass with language providing the framework for tax reform. With such an important piece of legislation tied to this budget, President Trump should use tax reform as leverage to get Senate Republicans to vote to fund other parts of his agenda in the budget resolution.
Trump should tell McConnell to include amendments defunding sanctuary cities, defunding Planned Parenthood, funding the border wall, and offsetting the recent deficit-busting $36.5 billion in disaster relief. The national debt stands at $20.3 trillion and is rising rapidly. It is far past time for the president to tell Congress to get its fiscal house in order.
There will be objections from some Republican senators to certain parts of the Trump agenda. The American people witnessed this when several RINO senators killed Obamacare repeal. President Trump ought to tell McConnell to herd his cats. Get everyone on the same page with a clear plan of action, share information, and move a consensus GOP plan through the Senate. Remind obstinate senators who won the presidency in 2016 and which agenda the voters demanded on election day.
Then get on with it.
3. Stay out of Republican primaries. Spend money to defeat Democrats.
The recent Senate primary in Alabama between Roy Moore, Mo Brooks, and Luther Strange demonstrated how Sen. McConnell is more than willing to drop millions of dollars against conservative candidates who support the Trump agenda in favor of lapdogs who support McConnell’s leadership. Now the McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund and One Nation PACs have raised another $7.1 million for the upcoming primary elections.
Trump must tell McConnell to back off and focus on defeating Democrats. There is no justification for pouring millions of dollars into deep red states to defeat conservatives in primaries. Those are wasted resources that should be spent to defeat vulnerable Democrats in 2018.
Trump needs to tell McConnell to let Republican voters decide for themselves which candidates are best to represent them. Once the voters have spoken, then Republicans need to go all out to defeat the Democrats, increase their majority in the Senate, and pass the agenda that Republicans campaigned on.
Ultimately, Trump needs to press McConnell to seek victory for the Trump agenda. Failing this, the Democrats will resume their majorities, McConnell will be out of power, and the Trump agenda will die.
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