President Trump has been in office for four months, and according to one of the best indicators of what he’s thinking — his Twitter account — he seems pretty frustrated about it.
Which makes sense. Trump has hardly any legislative victories to tweet about but lots of news about his campaign’s ties to Russia to defend.
Congress hasn’t accomplished much, and it may not: Lawmakers have only seven weeks of work left before their five-week break in August.
What Trump has tried to do alone has been stopped by the courts. Then there’s the near-ceaseless news about the investigation into Russia meddling in the election and Trump’s ties to it.
Let’s take a moment to put all of that in context by looking what, exactly, is frustrating Trump
Republicans in Congress have a long to-do list — and not a lot done
1) They want to roll back the Affordable Care Act
The hold up: Republicans are trying to do this without Democratic votes, but divisions in their own party aren’t much easier.
2) Reform the tax code for the first time in decades
The hold up: Republicans are trying to do this without Democrats, but see above.
3) Pass a budget to keep the federal government open by Oct. 1
The holdup: Republicans will probably need Democrats’ support.
4) Raise the debt ceiling, which the Treasury Department wants done by August
The holdup: Republicans probably need Democrats’ support for this, too.
What Republicans in Congress have done is limited
1) They’ve put Judge Neil M. Gorsuch on the Supreme Court (after blowing up the 60-vote filibuster for Supreme Court nominations).
2) They’ve repealed more than a dozen Affordable Care Act regulations (but the obscure law they were using to do this over Democrats’ heads has expired).
What Trump has done without Congress is also limited
1) He tried to temporarily ban travelers from several majority-Muslim countries
But that got held up: Federal courts have paused both his travel bans.
2) He tried to force sanctuary cities to hand over illegal immigrants when asked
But a federal judge said Trump’s method of doing this isn’t legal.
3) He rolled back President Barack Obama’s greenhouse gas limits
This will be caught up in courts, too.
4) He fired his FBI director because of “this Russia thing” (he has yet to name a replacement).
Speaking of Russia, a lot has happened on that front
1) The FBI confirmed to Congress that it is investigating whether the Trump campaign helped Russia meddle in the U.S. election.
2) The FBI’s investigation isn’t just looking at former Trump campaign aides; it’s looking at Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner.
3) The Justice Department appointed a special counsel to have wide latitude to investigate Russia and Trump.
4) The House and Senate intelligence committees are also conducting their own investigations of Trump and Russia.
On top of all this, Trump is also one of the most unpopular presidents in modern history and inexperienced in politics. Which means that even if Republicans in Congress were free of family problems, Trump isn’t in a position of strength to negotiate with them.
Call it a slow start for a newbie president, call it a Republican Party getting used to governing. Call it a witch hunt, if you want. But it’s clear that these first four months of Trump’s presidency are not playing out how Trump envisioned.