A lynch pin of President Trump’s nationalist agenda looks dead on arrival in the Senate.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that Trump’s proposed “border adjustment tax” stands little chance of being approved by the upper chamber.
Calls for such a levy served as part of the Trump campaign’s broadsides against free trade agreements and the deindustrialization of the United States.
Get our free emails
“It probably wouldn’t pass the Senate,” McConnell told Bloomberg news on Tuesday, referring to the border tax.
“The Secretary of the Treasury, and [Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)] and myself are trying to reach an agreement on a proposal that we can all agree to start with,” he said. “We haven’t reached that agreement yet, but we will at some point.”
“Border adjustability is a pretty controversial thing in the Senate, but we’ll see what’s in the final thing we agree to,” McConnell added.
The admission came in the wake of increased scrutiny on the Trump administration. On Monday afternoon, The Washington Post reported that Trump last week revealed highly-classified information to top Russian officials — Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
Specifically, Trump reportedly divulged intelligence, provided by an ally, about Islamic State plots. Administration officials denied claims that the move jeopardized American “sources and methods,” but could not refute the substance of the Post’s allegations. On Tuesday afternoon, The New York Times reported that the information came from the Israeli government.
McConnell reacted to the initial Post story by calling for “less drama” from the White House.
“I’ve heard the allegation. I’ve heard the response,” he told Bloomberg. “I don’t think I have anything to add to what I’ve read in terms of the impact of this in the future.”
McConnell also reacted to last week’s “drama”–the firing of now-former FBI Director James Comey–by calling for Merrick Garland to lead the Bureau.
A federal appellate judge, Garland had been nominated to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the February 2016 death of Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, stopped Garland from even receiving a confirmation hearing.
“I think the most important thing is for the president to pick somebody who’s apolitical, who clearly has a deep law enforcement background,” McConnell said. He noted that Garland “was the prosecutor in the Oklahoma City Bombing case.”
Whatever the cause of the “drama” in Washington, it appears that the Trump administration is casting a pall over Republicans’ fortunes.
In the wake of the House healthcare reform passage on May 4, Public Policy Polling found that Democrats’ lead on a “generic Congressional ballot” has nearly doubled — from 47-41, last month, to 49-38.
The bill’s passage was vociferously celebrated by the White House, which hosted a party after the vote to commemorate the bill’s advancement.