Wall Street Journal
By Michelle Hackman
April 23, 2017
WASHINGTON—White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus defended President Donald Trump’s performance in his first 100 days in office, pointing Sunday to recent history to argue that Mr. Trump is on track.
Mr. Priebus, appearing on NBC, said that most recent presidents signed no major legislative achievements into law until after the 100-day mark had passed.
Barack Obama stewarded an economic stimulus package into law one month into his presidency, Mr. Priebus acknowledged, but he said he benefited from a deal that lawmakers had begun negotiating the previous October.
Mr. Trump has drawn criticism for early missteps on his efforts to heighten restrictions on travel and immigration, his party’s inability to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, his backpedaling on foreign-policy promises and failure to fill many administration posts.
Border Lawmakers Balk at Donald Trump’s Wall Request
Not a single member of Congress who represents the territory on the southwest border has expressed support for President Trump’s request for $1.4 billion to begin construction of his promised wall, according to a Wall Street Journal survey.
The Trump administration has opened a wide-ranging probe into whether to curb steel imports in the name of national security, ramping up its campaign to give a more economic nationalist tinge to American trade policy.
Mr. Priebus said that Mr. Trump honored many of his major campaign promises through executive order, including directives tightening the immigration regulations as well as withdrawing from the unratified Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade pact that Mr. Trump frequently lambasted on the campaign trail.
He pointed to the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as a major legislative achievement and added that the administration is “hopeful” a health-care bill would pass the House this week.
“He is fulfilling his promises and doing it at breakneck speed,” Mr. Priebus said.
The administration focused much of its early energy on dismantling and replacing major portions of the Affordable Care Act, a Republican campaign promise since the law was first passed in 2010. But the Republican effort foundered late last month, when GOP leaders pulled their bill from the House floor after failing to win enough votes to pass the measure.
New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur, a co-chair of the Republican centrist organization known as the Tuesday Group, has been negotiating a deal on the bill with members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus. However, the changes they are proposing aren’t certain to win enough “yes” votes to make passage possible, and congressional leaders signaled a vote was unlikely.
Now, Mr. Trump plans to introduce a blueprint for a tax-code overhaul on Wednesday to show movement on another major legislative priority. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on Fox News Sunday morning that the president’s announcement wouldn’t involve a specific legislative proposal, and that the White House is undecided on a crucial sticking point: whether to try to raise as much revenue after any overhaul as the tax code currently pulls in.
Mr. Priebus acknowledged the administration is behind on its executive-branch appointments, but he blamed Democrats for holding up Mr. Trump’s cabinet nominees, which he said has slowed the process. Political differences, he said, also have slowed the process of filling other appointments throughout the government. “We have hundreds of people in the queue,” he said.
Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush’s political strategist, said the 100-day report card is a “completely phony” measure—but added that Mr. Trump has seen mixed results.
“We’re at 100 days and we’re going to have to measure,” Mr. Rove said on Fox News. “And he’s got a number of successes: Cabinet, Supreme Court nomination.
“But look, some big setbacks. The travel ban executive order—a mess. Now fixed, but a mess,” he added. “Obamacare repeal and replace—failed to get it done. And that’s difficult to do, but pressed it early.”
Write to Michelle Hackman at Michelle.Hackman@wsj.com
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