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Members of Congress give themselves a failing grade at the 6-month mark

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks from his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 18, 2017. President Donald Trump blasted congressional Democrats and "a few Republicans" over the collapse of the GOP effort to rewrite the Obama health care law. McConnell proposed a vote on a backup plan simply repealing the statute, but that idea was on the brink of rejection, too. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may have postponed the August recess to advance the GOP agenda, but Republicans still came up short of the votes needed to pass a new health care bill. By Tuesday afternoon, they faced another setback when three senators voiced their opposition to an "Obamacare" repeal bill identical to one that passed in 2015.

Despite having control of the Senate, the House and the White House, Republicans have yet to deliver on long-standing campaign promises.

On Monday night, President Donald Trump met with a group of senators at the White House to regroup after it was clear that McConnell did not have the votes to advance the Senate's second version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

After months of delays on a key legislative priority for Trump and the GOP, the president again recommended a straight repeal of Obamacare with replacement later. McConnell agreed and proposed returning to the 2015 legislation that would repeal Obamacare and leave two years open to work on a replacement.

Within hours, that proposal came up short. Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announcing they would not vote for a repeal, without a replacement.

Donald Trump did not take the setback well, telling reporters he is "disappointed" in the outcome.

"For seven years I've been hearing repeal and replace from Congress," Trump said. "And when we finally get a chance to repeal and replace, they don't take advantage of it. So that's disappointing. I would say I'm disappointed in what took place."

Despite holding the majority, Trump distanced himself and his party from the failed health care effort, saying that Democrats would be responsible for the collapse of Obamacare. "I'm not gonna own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not gonna own it."

However, it may be difficult for Republicans to run and win those seats if they are not able to overcome the fragmentation in the caucus and shore up a few key legislative victories. Among those are putting through tax reform and passing an infrastructure spending bill, two agenda items Trump said "we're gonna win."

The White House continued to press Congress throughout the day as the third health care deal broke down. Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at the Retail Advocate's summit, insisted that "inaction is not an option" for lawmakers. "Congress needs to do their job and Congress needs to do their job now."

What grade would you give Congress?

Whatever job Congress is doing, the American people seem to think they are not doing it very well.

Approval ratings for Congress are hovering around 20 percent. That is about the average rating the Democratic-controlled Congress saw before they had their supermajority wiped out in the 2010 elections,

Even among lawmakers there are doubts as to whether Congress can do its job.

"The biggest issues that we promised the American people—tax reform, repealing Obamacare, border security—these things haven't happened," Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told Sinclair Broadcast Group. "And it's not the president's fault, it's the Congress' fault."

Massie, an ally of the House Freedom Caucus, gave the Congress an "F," a failing grade for their performance during the past six months.

Member of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), elected in 2014 on the promise to repeal Obamacare and shake up the Washington establishment, also gave Congress low marks.

Between the delays on health care and challenges ahead for the House budget, which includes tax reform,Brat, a former economics professor gave the Congress an "incomplete" grade. "We got a lot of heavy lifting, so it's just incomplete right now. Not enough homework turned in."

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) chairwoman of the Budget Committee insisted that "we have done our work in the House" and can only expect the Senate will do their work as well.

In the Senate, the Republican Party's inability to overcome its differences and meet the already low bar of 51 votes for a health care bill has raised doubts about their ability to reach consensus on other issues.

McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that despite coming up short on the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, there is still time before the 2018 mid-term election to make good on other promises.

"We’ll be moving on to comprehensive tax reform and to infrastructure," McConnell said. "There's much work left to be done for the American people and we're ready to tackle it."

The work on comprehensive tax reform will begin in earnest in the House on Wednesday when the Budget Committee takes up the 2018 budget. Republicans have incorporated a major tax overhaul into the $4 trillion budget blueprint to ensure it could pass both the House and Senate without a single Democratic vote.

Budget chair Diane Black said the plan was a long-sought-after win for the Republican-controlled government.

"In past years the budget has only been a vision, but now with a Republican Congress and a Republican White House, this budget is a plan for action," she stated.

The budget and tax reform package was met with early criticism for the $200 billion in cuts to social programs, including Medicare and Social Security, and the possibility that without a repeal of Obamacare in the Senate, the budget could be $1.2 trillion short.

Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) was unfazed at the suggestion that Republicans, despite holding the majority, could also fail to advance the tax plan they campaign on and a budget.

"To suggest that having a Republican majority means that you have group-think would not be accurate," Woodall told Sinclair. "We're not trying to twist an arm to make this happen, we're trying to find that opportunity to build consensus."

On the other side of the Capitol the Senate is in a "struggle to find that common ground," Woodall noted. "We've just been more successful at that here."

Senate Democrats, who have been sidelined from the health care debate, could also be cut out of tax reform. McConnell could tee-up tax reform in a similar way as the health bill to require only 51 votes to pass.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), member of the Budget Committee, explained the irony of Republicans using the same process to push through tax reform "that worked so horrendously" on their health care plan.

Much of the popular frustration with Congress is gridlock. Few Democrats have a positive view of their party's efforts to block the Trump agenda. Republicans have shown little support for the strictly partisan health care plan put forward by their own party.

The Senate's second-ranking Democrat Dick Durbin (Ill.) noted that the majority of voters could care less about the inside game being played between the majority and minority parties. "They want to know if the Senate or the House or both can do anything to improve their lives. So far, there's limited evidence."







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