A day after the GOP presented a united front around the rollout of President Trump’s tax plan, House Republicans are expressing deep reservations about the Senate’s ability to get the job done.
Lawmakers stung over the failure to pass ObamaCare repeal worry the same fate could befall the tax measure if a handful of senators raise objections.
“Donald Trump won with an electoral landside and his three big campaign points were ObamaCare repeal, tax reform and border security. For a handful of senators to derail that agenda is very frustrating,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who is close to the House GOP leadership, says colleagues are frustrated with a handful of senators “overruling the will of the entire House.”
“We do need to see them step up and actually deliver for a change. We have over 200 bills sitting stalled over there. They haven’t been able to deliver on [health care] reform and they all ran on it and now we have a do-or-die moment on tax reform,” he said.
There’s also a sense among House Republicans that their Senate brethren aren’t under the same pressure to get results — perhaps because the GOP’s majority in the Senate is seen as safer in 2018 than the House majority.
“They put our majority in jeopardy with their failure on health care, more than they did their own,” Cole said.
While Republicans have a bigger majority in the House than in the Senate, the political map favors the Senate GOP in 2018.
Republicans only have to defend nine seats next year, and only one — held by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) — is in a state won by Hillary Clinton. Democrats are defending more than 20 seats, including 10 in states won by Trump.
In the House, Republicans represent 23 districts carried by Clinton, just a little less than what Democrats would need to win to take back the majority.
Republicans are excited about moving to tax reform, and Trump’s plan received enthusiastic support at a half-day private retreat the House GOP held Wednesday to review it.
The president’s proposals to eliminate the estate tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax received ovations.
But the mood turned more somber when Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) stood up to ask if the Senate could be counted on to pass tax legislation, according to people familiar with the meeting.
A spokesman for Poliquin did not respond to a request for comment.
“A lot of House members trust a lot of senators to introduce their own tax reform bills,” quipped Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), alluding to how senators seek to show independence by offering their own bills.