Senator McConnell you mean the ‘excessive expectations’ of Congress repealing and replacing Obamacare like you have promised for the past 8 years?
WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out on Wednesday at the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who suggested this week that the president harbored “excessive expectations” about the pace of congressional progress.
“Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, as he and lawmakers took time away from Washington during the August recess. “After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”
The executive scolding followed the president’s bitter disappointment with the Senate’s failure to dismantle the Affordable Care Act last month — and supplied perhaps the most potent evidence yet that Mr. Trump, seething over the lack of major achievements in his first year, will not hesitate to train fire on allies.
Before Mr. Trump’s tweet, he spoke by phone with Mr. McConnell to express his disappointment in the senator’s comments, according to a person with knowledge of the call.
Growing animated, Mr. Trump emphasized that he would continue to push for a repeal, the person said, and suggested Mr. McConnell do the same.
Mr. McConnell’s office declined to confirm the call or address questions about it.
His message echoed the criticisms in recent days from many conservative news media figures and activists, who blame Mr. McConnell for failing to corral the necessary 51 votes to keep the repeal effort alive.
Yet by antagonizing Mr. McConnell, the president’s often inscrutable Senate partner in conservative policy making, Mr. Trump risks upending an already charged relationship with lawmakers who have joined him in this shotgun marriage of unified Republican government.
Mr. McConnell’s team sought to play down any animosity, noting that he also hopes to proceed on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, despite the setbacks.
“The leader has spoken repeatedly about the path forward regarding Obamacare repeal on the Senate floor, at media availabilities multiple times and in Kentucky,” his spokeswoman, Antonia Ferrier, said in an email. “If he has any new statements, I’ll be sure to pass them along.”
Mr. McConnell’s initial remarks were pointed, but hardly scorching. Speaking at a gathering this week in Kentucky, Mr. McConnell mounted a defense of the chamber’s work, arguing that complicated legislation takes time.
“Part of the reason I think that the story line 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,” the senator said. “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.”
Though he has generally been a loyal steward of the president’s agenda, Mr. McConnell has tweaked him at times this year, including several pointed dismissals of Mr. Trump’s calls to do away with the legislative filibuster.
Mr. McConnell has also repeatedly encouraged the president to tweet less.
On Wednesday, Republicans in Washington were reminded why, particularly as the party seeks to confront tax policy, a debt ceiling deadline and perhaps a revived health care repeal push when lawmakers return next month.
“Attacking the Senate majority leader of your own party is utterly incomprehensible and completely wrongheaded,” said Michael Steel, a Republican strategist who was an aide to the former House speaker John A. Boehner and to Jeb Bush, a Republican presidential candidate in 2016. “There is no positive result for the president or his agenda in these attacks.”
It is unclear how Mr. McConnell’s remarks, made Monday at a Rotary Club event, hit the president’s radar. As recently as Tuesday evening, Mr. Trump was deploying his Twitter account for a cause Mr. McConnell cherishes, endorsing Senator Luther Strange, Republican of Alabama, a week before his Republican primary in a special election. Mr. McConnell has been seeking to boost Mr. Strange, who took office after Mr. Trump named Jeff Sessions as his attorney general.