Already asking Congress to approve landmark tax reforms, a controversial package of health care changes, and a series of hot button immigration actions, President Donald Trump on Friday added yet another major item to the Congressional to-do list in 2017, urging lawmakers to pass new legislation in coming weeks adding conditions to the Iran nuclear deal.
“The flaws in the deal also include insufficient enforcement and near total silence on Iran’s missile programs,” the President declared, bluntly warning that if Congress did not act, he might tear up the Iran agreement on his own.
If there was one theme this week across the varied landscape of issues addressed by the White House and Mr. Trump, it was President Trump asking for action now by the House and Senate.
“We’re going to also pressure Congress very strongly to finish the repeal and the replace of Obamacare once and for all,” the President said on Thursday, as he rolled out a new executive order on health insurance changes, and then announced an end to payments to health insurance companies which pay subsidies for some consumers who buy coverage through the Obama health law exchanges.
But the record of Congress so far on Mr. Trump’s agenda has been spotty, and the White House publicly noted this week that on the failed effort on health care.
“They all promised and campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare; they haven’t done that,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said flatly.
“Time and time again, Congress has made promises and failed to deliver,” Sanders added.
After the Senate failed to approve a health care bill by a September 30 deadline, GOP leaders in the Congress were ready to switch their focus mainly to tax reform.
But the President has had other ideas.
Earlier this week, Mr. Trump rolled out a series of demands for any immigration legislation, tying a series of measures to crack down on illegal immigration to the approval of any plan on immigrant “Dreamers.”
The President has said he wants Congress to act by March on the DACA/Dreamers issue, but Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) suggested Thursday that deadline could slip.
“As President, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, which makes clear that all legislative powers are vested in the Congress, not the President,” Mr. Trump wrote in a letter, making it clear he wants lawmakers to act on immigration, which is not something that will happen with the snap of someone’s fingers.
In a speech on Wednesday to a group of truckers on tax reform, the President had a clear message for lawmakers in attendance.
“And our great Congressmen, Congresswomen, and all of the people that we’re working with, all I can say is: You better get it passed,” Mr. Trump said.
If tax reform were the only major issue on the docket, that alone would be difficult to complete by the end of the year. In fact, on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan was already threatening to keep lawmakers at work over the holiday break.
“We’re going to keep people here for Christmas if we have to,” the Speaker said.
One other item that must be addressed is the funding bills for Uncle Sam, as a December 8 government shutdown deadline already looms – and without a deal yet on how much money would be spent in 2018, you can’t negotiate that bill.
“If we wait until December 8, it gets pretty hard to get it done,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a member of the House Appropriations Committee.