Speaking at a Rotary Club gathering in Kentucky on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vented about how President Donald Trump's lack of political experience has led to him setting “excessive expectations” for legislative priorities.
McConnell, R-Ky., told the group in Florence that he found it “extremely irritating” that Congress has earned the reputation of not accomplishing anything.
“Part of the reason I think that the storyline is that we haven’t done much is because, in part, the president and others have set these early timelines about things need to be done by a certain point,” said McConnell, a Republican and the state’s senior senator.
Trump, a political newcomer, as McConnell noted, has a habit of declaring progress on major priorities that do not necessarily reflect the reality of lawmaking.
For example, as the House was in the midst of negotiations about its Obamacare replacement bill in February, Trump announced that Congress was in the “final stages” of its bill and said it would be ready for “submitting” in March. While the House bill was unveiled in March, that chamber didn’t vote on it until May, and health care votes continued until the end of July.
That sort of disconnect has led to Trump’s expressing disappointment when bills — chief among them health care reform — fail to end up on his desk, even though, as with health care, the political reality indicated all along how difficult it was going to be to pass legislation.
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before. And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process,” McConnell told the group. “So part of the reason I think people feel we’re underperforming is because too many artificial deadlines — unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating — may not have been fully understood.”
He urged the audience to judge this Congress “when it finishes,” or after the 115th Congress, which convened on Jan. 3, 2017, completes its two-year session. For comparison, he noted that President Barack Obama did not sign his signature Affordable Care Act into law until March of 2010, more than a year after taking office.
The White House has not yet responded to ABC News’ request for comment.