Legislative Inaction Endangers Trump Agenda

Legislative Inaction Prevents Trump From Enacting Much Of His Agenda

No matter which side of the political aisle you’re on, one thing that’s virtually incontestable is that President Donald J. Trump is having an extremely difficult time moving forward with much of his agenda. Some of this can be blamed on the constantly rotating door of the White House. After all, the Trump administration has been plagued with resignations and firings, and there are also more than 1,000 positions that need to be filled at the top-tier level.

However, legislative inaction is another issue that’s either hindering Trump or keeping him in check, depending on your point of view. To be clear, the president currently enjoys the advantage of the GOP having control of the House and the Senate. Despite this, Trump has placed his signature on a shockingly low number of bills during his first seven months in office. In fact, his controversial usage of executive action has enabled him to bring his agenda to life more than anything involving Congress.

Examining the Bills Signed by Trump to Date

One of Trump’s latest signatures was on the Congress-approved bill to impose sanctions on Russia. However, Trump clearly wasn’t pleased about signing this bill as he quickly took to Twitter to complain about it.

Even though Trump did what even the GOP was pressuring him into doing, it’s clear through his tweets that imposing sanctions on Russia wasn’t a high priority for the president. This is intriguing considering all of the controversy stemming from Trump’s perceived relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin pictured talking at the G20 Nations Hold Hamburg Summit
[Image by BPA/Getty Images]

Aside from the Russian sanctions bill, most of the things Trump has signed off on are merely revisions to existing statutes. One of the most notable, and least controversial, of these revisions is the American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017. This took the framework of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act from 1968 and expanded it to provide grant funding to assist veterans with finding work in the law enforcement field.

Legislative Debating Drastically Altered One Bill

Members of Congress are always going to debate bills, and it’s very common for some aspects of these bills to be tweaked or dropped altogether before the president is able to sign them. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, falls under this heading, but it was also very contentious because it prevented Trump from achieving much of his agenda.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, is what funds the government until September. President Trump put together his vision for what this budget should look like, but much of it was stripped away from the final version. A prime example is the fact that no funding for the proposed border wall between the U.S.A. and Mexico was approved by Congress. Trump also only received half of his requested military budget increase.

Trump’s Campaign Promises Vs. Reality

Not only is the wall unlikely to receive funding but so are numerous other things that Trump promised during his campaign. In many cases, he’s still promising these things will happen, even though he hasn’t received enough legislative support to make his promises come true.

At least until the end of September, there will be none of the drastic cuts to NASA’s budget that Trump has frequently spoken about. There’s also no federally approved movement toward defunding Planned Parenthood, nor will so-called sanctuary cities actually lose their federal funding.

Photo of portion of Trump's budget focusing on NASA
A portion of Trump’s first proposed budget for NASA. [Image by Jon Elswick/ AP images]

Other departments and programs that received much smaller budgetary cuts than Trump supported include the Environmental Protection Agency, clean energy science, the National Institutes of Health, foreign aid, and the following departments: State, Labor, Education, and Agriculture.

Of course, Trump and approximately half of the GOP blame Democrats for forcing them to pass a budget that doesn’t include more of the president’s agenda. Is this actually fair, though? When you consider the fact that the GOP is in charge of the trifecta, the House, Senate, and White House, it becomes more difficult to buy into the argument that the Democrats are solely to blame.

Trump’s Healthcare Plans Are on Life Support

Trump has vacillated a few times about health care, but attempting to pressure the GOP into getting a deal done has become one of his recent primary goals. This has been evidenced by tweets that seem to threaten the GOP such as the following:


Despite all of this blustering, Congress hasn’t been able to get enough support for any version of a new healthcare bill. In fact, the highly contentious first attempt at passing the American Health Care Act of 2017 was so unpopular that only 8 percent of U.S. citizens supported it.

Meanwhile, the number of Republican voters who support any version of the American Health Care Act of 2017 continues to drop. This makes it very difficult for members of Congress to throw their support behind the bill. Due to this, it seems practically impossible at this point for any new Healthcare bill, or Obamacare repeal legislation, to successfully make its way through the House and Senate.

The Impact on Trump’s Approval Ratings

There are many factors that determine a president’s approval rating, including how many campaign promises they keep and how they represent themselves and the nation on the global stage. Trump hasn’t done himself any favors with his particular brand of controversial remarks and tweets. When you combine that with his inability to resolve legislative inaction relating to the major points of his agenda, it’s going to be difficult to keep voters happy.

This has been showcased by a steady decline in the president’s approval ratings. Most recently, voter approval dropped to a stunningly low 33 percent. His disapproval rating has climbed 17 points since January and now sits at 61 percent.

It’s expected for Democrats to disapprove of the Republican president. The bigger problem for the president’s hopes of reelection lies in polls that now indicate 50 percent of Trump’s biggest voter base, white voters who don’t have a college degree, do not approve of the job he’s doing. Republican voters have also started giving a much bigger thumbs-down to Congress than usual, which now has an abysmal approval rating of only 10 percent.

Will these numbers make it even harder for Trump to push his agenda through? The odds are very high that the answer is yes. After all, with so many career politicians facing the possibility of losing their jobs, it seems unlikely that the majority of them will keep voting against the wishes of their constituents just to keep the president happy.

As a result, no one should expect healthcare to be repealed or replaced anytime soon, nor should anyone make plans to watch the border wall being erected. Planned Parenthood is also likely safe at a national level, at least for now. Meanwhile, Robert Mueller is moving forward with the Washington-Russia probe by impaneling a Grand Jury in DC.

[Featured Image by Pool/Getty Images]