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Ditching Obama’s Withdrawn Approach, Trump Has Been Accessible To Congress

- April 26, 2017

IN A SHARP CONTRAST FROM HIS PREDESSESOR, PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS PRIORITIZED ACCESSIBILTY TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE

Unlike President Obama, Since Taking Office President Trump Has Pushed For Strong And Open Dialogue Between His Administration And Congress

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy Is Impressed With The President's Attentiveness To The Positions And Views Of Individual Lawmakers During Meetings. "House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a friend of the president's, said he has been impressed with how Trump will call attention to individual lawmakers in meetings, recalling who said what about him or his policies on TV. 'I've watched him in rooms where he goes through person by person. He clearly keeps track,' McCarthy said. 'He's not just watching big shows, either. He has called us up after watching our news conferences here at the Capitol.'" (Ashley Parker and Robert Costa, "'Everyone Tunes In': Inside Trump's Obsession With Cable TV," The Washington Post , 4/23/17)

President Trump Invited The Entire U.S. Senate For A Briefing On The Situation In North Korea From Administration's Top Security Officials. "Top Trump administration officials will hold a rare briefing on Wednesday at the White House for the entire U.S. Senate on the situation in North Korea, senior Senate aides said on Monday. All 100 senators have been asked to the White House for the briefing by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the aides said. While top administration officials routinely travel to Capitol Hill to address members of Congress on foreign policy and national security matters, it is unusual for the entire 100-member Senate to go to such an event at the White House, and for those four top officials to be involved." (Patricia Zengerle and Jeffrey Benkoe, "Entire U.S. Senate To Go To White House For North Korea Briefing," Reuters , 4/24/17)

President Trump Met With Congressional Black Caucus Members For A "Candid" Policy Discussion. "President Donald Trump had a 'candid' discussion with members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday, lawmakers said, while also repeating his politically challenging campaign promise to tackle high prescription drug prices. Trump vowed action to lower drug costs ahead of a meeting with the caucus that also touched on Trump's recent budget proposal, infrastructure, poverty and criminal justice reform, according to the CBC's chairman, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.)." (Elena Schor and Matthew Nussbaum, "Trump Meets Black Caucus And Vows Action On Drug Prices," Politico , 3/22/17)

President Trump "Enthusiastic[ally]" Invited Democratic Congressmen, Elijah Cummings (D-MD) And Peter Welch (D-VT) To The White House To Discuss Prescription Drug Policy. "Two House Democrats say President Donald Trump was 'enthusiastic' about their proposal to address the high cost of prescription drugs. Congressmen Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Peter Welch of Vermont met with Trump at the White House to discuss their plan to allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices. Cummings says the president was enthusiastic and made clear to them that he wants to do something about it." ("Cummings Meets With President Trump," The Associated Press , 3/8/17)

  • President Trump Called Him Directly Discuss The Issue And Schedule The Meeting. "Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) once appealed to Trump directly on 'Morning Joe,' addressing the camera to implore the president to call him so the two could chat about prescription drugs. A day or so later, Cummings said, the president himself responded. 'I was a little surprised that he called - I thought his secretary would call, but he actually called,' Cummings said. 'But it's the way he operates. And he does watch television and he's very critical of television, and I thought we had a good conversation.'" (Ashley Parker and Robert Costa, "'Everyone Tunes In': Inside Trump's Obsession With Cable TV," The Washington Post , 4/23/17)

Throughout The Healthcare Debate Process, President Trump Regularly Attended House Leadership And War Room Meetings On Capitol Hill. "And the White House is plowing ahead to help House leadership sell this bill to the full Republican caucus, attending daily leadership meetings and 'war room meetings on the Hill, while also reaching out directly to members and outside advocacy groups that have taken issue with the House bill." (Stephen Collinson, "Trump's First Big Sale: Rallying Republicans On Health Care," CNN , 3/8/17)

President Obama Was Far More Reluctant To Engage Members Of Congress In Policy Discussions, Especially Members Of The Republican Party

Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Was "Astonished" At How Disengaged Obama Was And Said Obama Gave The Impression That Capitol Hill Was Not His Problem. "After his return to the Capitol that afternoon, Mr. Reid told other senators and his staff members that he was astonished by how disengaged the president seemed. After all, these were Mr. Obama's own ambassadors who were being blocked by Mr. McConnell, and Secretary of State John Kerry had been arguing for months that getting them installed was an urgent necessity for the administration. But the impression the president left with Mr. Reid was clear: Capitol Hill is not my problem." (Carl Hulse, Jeremy W. Peters and Michael Shear, "Obama Is Seen As Frustrating His Own Party," The New York Times , 8/18/14)

According To The New York Times, President Obama Was "Remarkably Distant From His Own Party On Capitol Hill." "To Democrats in Congress who have worked with Mr. Obama, the indifference conveyed to Mr. Reid, one of the president's most indispensable supporters, was frustratingly familiar. In one sense, Mr. Obama's response was a reminder of what made him such an appealing figure in the first place: his almost innate aversion to the partisan squabbles that have left Americans so jaded and disgruntled with their political system. But nearly six years into his term, with his popularity at the lowest of his presidency, Mr. Obama appears remarkably distant from his own party on Capitol Hill, with his long neglect of would-be allies catching up to him." (Carl Hulse, Jeremy W. Peters and Michael Shear, "Obama Is Seen As Frustrating His Own Party," The New York Times , 8/18/14)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Invited President Obama To Capitol Hill To "Hear Directly From Senate Republicans" And Discuss Debt-Ceiling Negotiations. "'I'd like to invite the president to come to the Capitol today to meet with Senate Republicans - any time this afternoon, if he's available, to come on up to the Capitol,' McConnell said. 'That way he can hear directly from Senate Republicans … why what he's proposing will not pass.'" (Alexander Bolton and Sam Youngman, "White House Rejects McConnell Invite For Obama To Meet GOP," The Hill , 6/30/11)

  • Obama's White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Rejected The Invitation, Said That It Was "Not A Conversation Worth Having." "The White House has rejected Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's (Ky.) invitation for President Obama to meet Thursday with Senate Republicans about their position on the debt-ceiling talks. White House press secretary Jay Carney said McConnell was asking Obama to visit and 'hear Republicans restate their maximalist position' in the negotiations to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. 'We know that position. That's not a conversation worth having,' Carney said at his daily briefing." (Alexander Bolton and Sam Youngman, "White House Rejects McConnell Invite For Obama To Meet GOP," The Hill , 6/30/11)

In 2013, Obama Met With Republican House Conference For The First Time In Two Years To Discuss Policy, Which Was His First Time In Four Years Meeting On Capitol Hill. "President Obama will meet with the House Republican Conference on Wednesday for the first time since June 2011. It will also be the first time he has visited his main antagonists on Capitol Hill on their own turf since 2009 - just a week after he took office and when they remained a House minority." (Alexander Bolton and Justin Sink, "Obama To Meet For First Time In Two Years With House Republicans," The Hill , 3/13/13)

Frustrated House Democrats Couldn't Understand Why Obama Wouldn't Talk To Them And Complained He Didn't Confer With Them About Strategy Or Intentions. "House Democrats are frustrated with what they say is a lack of election-year communication from the White House. The lawmakers say it's difficult to defend President Obama from GOP attacks, when he doesn't confer with his allies about his strategy and intentions. Some are scratching their heads why, after nearly six years in office and a reshuffling of his legislative affairs team, Obama's working relationship with Congress remains prickly." (Mike Ellis, "House Democrats Can't Figure Out Why Obama Won't Talk To Them," The Hill , 8/14/14)

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) Couldn't Fathom Why Obama Wouldn't Work With Other Democrats In Congress. "'It's hard for us to fathom; I mean, is it just lack of full staffing and resources? [Is it] professional commitment? Is it a disdain for the legislative branch? I mean, what is it?' asked Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.). 'People like me want to be allies - I mean, I am an ally. So work with us, reach out to us; you know, we're not the enemy.' Connolly emphasized that he has 'no complaints' with the administration's outreach when it comes to logistics and political operations. But as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he's long-been frustrated by the White House's approach to 'the bread-and-butter of congressional relations and the policy front.' 'That's made our jobs harder,' He said." (Mike Ellis, "House Democrats Can't Figure Out Why Obama Won't Talk To Them," The Hill , 8/14/14)

Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) Compared Obama To President Bill Clinton And Said Obama Didn't "Invest All That Much Time And Effort" Into An Alliance With Congress. "Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) likened the relationship between presidents and their Capitol Hill allies to that between quarterbacks and the offensive linemen charged with protecting them. Some quarterbacks, he said, simply manage that alliance better than others. 'Certainly, Bill Clinton saw us as his offensive line, and so he attended to the nurturing of his offensive line,' Moran said. 'And I don't think this president, this quarterback, invests all that much time and effort into the care and feeding of his offensive line.'" (Mike Ellis, "House Democrats Can't Figure Out Why Obama Won't Talk To Them," The Hill , 8/14/14)

Considered By Some To Be The "Most Moderate Republican In The Senate," (Former Senator) Olympia Snowe (R-ME) Graded Obama "Close To Failing" On His Outreach To Republicans In Congress. "Olympia Snowe may be considered the most moderate Republican in the Senate, but that doesn't mean she's a big fan of President Obama. Asked by ABC News to grade Obama on working with Republicans, Snowe said it would 'be close to failing on that point.' Snowe announced recently she would not seek re-election this year. The Maine senator, who voted for Obama's stimulus plan in 2009 and sought to work with the administration on health care, also told ABC she has not had a face-to-face meeting with the president in nearly two years. 'The president should be reaching out, you know, to many on the opposite side of the aisle,' Snowe said." (David Jackson, "Snowe Gives Obama 'Close To Failing Grade' On Cooperation," USA Today , 3/28/12)

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Admitted One Of Obama's Shortcomings Was His Ability To Work With Members Of Congress. "Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) offered a blunt assessment of President Obama's ability to work with members of Congress in an interview with former top Obama aide David Axelrod. 'He is my friend and I am loyal to him,' she said of Obama in the interview released Thursday. 'But one of the president's shortcomings is that sometimes he sees the world through his eyes and doesn't do, I think, enough work on being empathetic about how other people view things.'" (Jordan Fabian, "McCaskill Details Obama's 'Shortcomings' In Working With Congress," The Hill , 12/10/15)


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