Senate Republicans want President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE to stop taking jabs at Congress over its inability to get things done.
Trump loves to tout results and bash lawmakers when they do not move fast enough on his priorities.
Trump warned Senate Republicans through Twitter a week ago that they should get the annual spending bills passed before the August recess, a high bar for a chamber that didn’t pass any regular appropriations bills in 2017.
He also slammed the Senate’s pace on approving nominees as “the worst in history.”
A few days before that, he dinged Congress for a lack of progress on immigration reform.
“We are going to demand Congress secure the border in the upcoming CR,” he tweeted, referring to a continuing resolution that would provide government funding. “Congress must act now to change our weak and ineffective immigration laws.”
Trump’s criticism extends to matters beyond legislation and nominees.
Earlier this month, he poked GOP lawmakers for not being more vocally critical of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s investigation, warning “Republicans better get tough and smart before it is too late!”
This flurry of criticism has some Republicans worried that Trump could dampen enthusiasm among the GOP base, hurting turnout for the midterm elections.
“It would be very helpful with our base if rather than suggesting we weren’t doing anything, that he acknowledged what we are getting done,” said Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill Senate passes T bipartisan infrastructure bill in major victory for Biden MORE (R-S.D.).
Rounds said this message was communicated to Trump at a meeting on Capitol Hill this past week.
“I think it was well received by the president,” he said.
Republicans say that Trump’s complaints about lack of accomplishments in Congress, such as the failure to pass legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare, have overshadowed accomplishments, such as passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut last year.
“When I sit down with a small group of Republicans in Tennessee, they say, ‘Why don’t you guys do anything?’ ” said Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism MORE (R-Tenn.).
Alexander said he has gotten so many questions and complaints about the ObamaCare failure he has printed out cards that he hands to constituents that list all the accomplishments of the 115th Congress.
They include tax reform, confirming 21 circuit court judges, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate and using the Congressional Review Act to repeal 14 Obama-era federal regulations.
Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenThe 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (R-N.D.) did Alexander one better and gave Trump one of those cards during his meeting with the GOP conference.
Alexander told Trump that Republicans’ chances of keeping control of the Senate and House after November will depend on him rallying the base.
That means touting its accomplishments, not panning it for the backlog of executive and judicial branch nominations or stalemate on immigration.
“He has the biggest megaphone and the more he talks about that, the better off we think we are,” he said.
Republicans have a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate and hope to expand it as Democrats must defend 26 seats in November while Republicans have to worry about only nine.
But Democrats have hopes of seizing the majority because the president’s party tends to fare badly in the first midterm election and polls show them leading Republicans by an average of 5 points on the generic ballot.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money — Democrats rush to finish off infrastructure Biden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions GOP senators say Biden COVID-19 strategy has 'exacerbated vaccine hesitancy' MORE (R-Ky.) warned on Thursday that control of the chamber is “absolutely” up for grabs.
GOP strategists think Senate Republicans are right to ask Trump to be more positive.
“One, Trump has great clout with the Republican base. Two, hammering Republicans [in Congress] undermines their central argument in the midterm election, which is, ‘the president needs reinforcements — look at the great results, he needs more Republicans not Democrats,’ ” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.
Trump’s approval rating has climbed in recent months.
Gallup reported it reached an 11-month high at the end of April, with 42 percent of respondents nationwide saying they liked the job he was doing.
A CNN poll released earlier this month found his job approval rating at 41 percent, with 53 percent disapproving.
While more people disapprove than approve of Trump’s job performance, he’s doing significantly better in the public’s opinion than Congress.
A Gallup poll conducted earlier this month showed Congress with a 17 percent job approval rating.
Strategists say Trump will be key to turning out Republican voters in November.
“The megaphone that President Trump has to fire up the base and get them to vote on election day is crucial for Republicans to win,” said Ron Bonjean, a strategist and former Senate GOP leadership aide.
He noted that Republicans held onto the Senate majority in 2016, despite predictions that Democrats would win back control, because of Trump’s ability to motivate voters.
Senate GOP candidates hung on to win in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin thanks in part to Trump’s victory in states where Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE was expected to prevail.
Bonjean said Republicans “were activated during the presidential election and it’s just as important to get them motivated to support members of Congress” in the midterm.