Republicans face a week of high stakes on many fronts
Washington — A high-stakes week got off to a bad start Monday for President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP.
A key defection appeared to sink their health care drive anew, while another disappointment threatened Tuesday as the candidate backed by Trump and McConnell struggled in the polls in an Alabama Senate race runoff.
The twin blows, if both arrive, would leave Trump and McConnell looking for a win elsewhere. That arena could be taxes, where congressional Republicans and the administration will finally roll out their long-promised tax overhaul plan, “The largest tax cuts in the history of our country,” Trump promised Monday in an Alabama radio appearance on the “Rick & Bubba Show.”
Indeed, with failure now all but inevitable on the health bill, the tax push could stand by week’s end as the GOP’s last and only opportunity for a major political and policy win this year, a much-diminished outcome for an era of unified GOP control that began full of bold promises for achievement on many fronts. And success on taxes remains far from assured, with Wednesday’s roll-out serving as little more than a starting gun that will unleash ferocious lobbying over specific provisions in the code.
But on taxes, at least, failure does not yet loom as perhaps the likeliest outcome, as it does for Trump and McConnell’s other big gambles this week. The GOP health legislation now appears to have no path forward before a critical week’s end deadline, a reality acknowledged gloomily by senior Republicans late Monday. “It looks bleak at the moment,” said the No. 3 Senate Republican, John Thune of South Dakota.
And in Alabama, Trump and McConnell are both risking their political capital in support of the establishment candidate, incumbent GOP Sen. Luther Strange, who is in a tight race with former state chief justice Roy Moore.
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