Speaking at a Rotary Club gathering in Kentucky on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vented about what he called President Donald Trump’s “excessive expectations” regarding the legislative system, which the Kentucky Republican argued has led to the unjustified perception that the Republican-led Congress has not been productive.
He told the Florence, Kentucky, group 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,” he said.
A political newcomer, as McConnell noted, Trump 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 expressing disappointment when bills — chief among them health care reform — ultimately fail to end up on his desk even though, in the case of health care, the political reality indicated all along how difficult it was going to be to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before. And I think [Trump] 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 said.
McConnell urged the audience to judge this Congress “when it finishes,” or when 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 health care plan into law until March of 2010.
The White House has not yet replied to ABC News’ request for comment.