The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Trump-Congress Relationship

Byron York notes that jobs and the economy are the voters’ chief concern. Health care isn’t. The reason Washington, D.C., is focused on health care right now? “New to Washington and with no experience in public office, Trump has become a prisoner to the House Republican leadership — or more precisely, to the complicated procedural requirements of the House and Senate, and the judgment of the GOP leadership that must operate within those boundaries.”

If Trump is a prisoner, though, he is a willing prisoner. And it is partly a function of Trump’s own lack of an agenda that the House Republicans are setting one of their own. When a party has controlled both the House and the White House in the modern era, typically the House has deferred to the president, who campaigned on a specific agenda that could be quickly turned into legislation. George W. Bush campaigned on a tax cut and an education bill, made them a priority for his first year, outlined what those bills would look like, and guided them to passage. Trump and his people haven’t done that with their agenda. There’s no infrastructure bill with the administration’s sign-off, and no sign of any urgency in developing one. Trump did not have a real plan on health care, much demonstrated interest in it, or any particular vision of how it would fit into an overall legislative agenda.

There’s a good argument for re-asserting congressional power over the national political agenda. But people who don’t like it, or like the results, should consider that the House Republicans are filling a vaccuum they didn’t create.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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