Republicans, who barely control the Senate, normally had the votes they needed to rubber stamp anything wannabe dictator Donald Trump wanted, but with his political fortunes in free fall after corrupt mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic and now turning the Department of Homeland Security into his personal gestapo, the GOP is split into factions driven by a “sudden realization” that their president’s freewheeling and free-spending ways are a polar opposite of what the party promoted.
GOP Senators duped Trump’s demand for a payroll tax cut, rejected his call to remove money for virus testing and approved an annual military spending bill that he threatens to veto because it requires renaming bases to remove names of Confederate Army leaders.
The Republicans are unhappy with Trump. Welcome to the club. Polls show most Americans want Trump evicted from the White House in the Nov. 3 General Election, which will probably increase the Democratic control of the House and might give the party of the Donkey a Senate majority.
Trump surprised many on Thursday when he cancelled the Jacksonville portion of the split GOP convention and the one where he had hoped to have the packed, cheering crowds he so adores for an acceptance speech.
Trump said he pulled the plug on Jacksonville because he recognized, finally, it would be dangerous. It would bring a mask-less crowd to an event where the COVID-19 virus would circle among them like sharks on a feeding frenzy.
But several GOP operatives say privately that with party leaders and others cancelling their planes to come to Jacksonville would probably be a repeat of the Tulsa rally that left the arena with two thirds of its seats empty.
“The president hates empty seats,” says one GOP consultant. “His mood is sinking faster than the polls.”
“For Senate Republicans, it’s now all about self-preservation,” writes Carl Hulse in The New York Times. “Their uncertain fortunes appear to have stiffened Republicans’ resolve to do something they rarely try: distance themselves, however gingerly, from Mr. Trump.”
Splits within GOP ranks threaten a new stimulus proposal they had hoped to have ready this week but is stalled.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has made it painfully clear to his colleagues that any final legislation has to be acceptable to most of them, the White House and Democrats in the Senate and House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already pushed through a measure three times as large as the one Republicans are considering.
That spread is driving off some Senate conservatives who fear that Mr. McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are preparing to give away the store to appease Democrats. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, among others, suggested that Republicans should just stand pat, declining to agree to additional spending. The more Republicans who choose to do so, the more heavily Mr. McConnell will need to rely on Democratic votes to pass the package.
With the campaign now in its final 100 days, some in the Senate wonder if they are up to the task.
“Senate Republicans have been so divided, so disorganized, so unprepared that they have struggled to even draft a partisan proposal within their own conference,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says.
GOP Senators are also unhappy with their leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (D-KY) who springs new proposals without their involvement or input.
That’s unfortunately a pattern we see a lot,” complained Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to POLITICO after coming out of a party lunch on Thursday. “Bills are drafted behind closed doors, and then sprung on the conference at the last minute. I think everyone expected that pattern to be followed here as well.”
And the countdown clock continues to click.
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