(CNN)Donald Trump’s presidency has already been filled with many points of drama, but his speech to a joint session of Congress this Tuesday presents him with a true monumental task. It takes place at a critical junction in his relations with an increasingly restive Republican Congress.
The President hasn’t seemed very interested in the core issue that brought him into office jobs. Although after the election there was talk of a proposed infrastructure bill
, the initial idea found considerable opposition when Democrats discovered that most of the money would go toward contractors and bankers rather than workers. Since then there has been little push for any kind of legislation, even though it would have been an opportunity to put the Democrats on the defense. Instead, Trump has focused on other issues, such as refugees, thus far pushing aside the one policy area that might allow him to start loosening the legislative barriers.
If Republicans get too restless, especially as they confront local protesters at town halls, they can easily start to cause problems with issues that Trump does tackle. Some might be more willing to investigate
the controversies that have arisen, such as with Russia.
To be sure, the Hundred Days ain’t even close to over yet. There is still more than enough time for Trump to start moving on the legislative front and to put his opponents in a defensive position. Tuesday’s address to Congress serves as an opportunity for him to get this part of his term going. If he tries a rapid-fire approach, as he has done with executive orders, with legislation, then congressional Republicans will move the bills with speed and muscle. But he has to keep them on his side.
Most members of Congress understand that moments of partisan unity like the one Trump now enjoys are few and far between. Time is the most valuable commodity in American politics, and with every day the opportunities for passing legislation fall away.
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Trump needs to be careful right now. Many Republicans are clearly grumbling that the pace of the legislative agenda is not just halting but almost non-existent. Trump should not confuse partisan loyalty with love for him. The Republicans want bills to be sent their way. The longer he waits, the more that frustration builds and the more temptation there could be for the GOP to break with him. Then President Trump might find out, like presidents before him, just what Congress can do to a commander in chief they don’t like.
Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/26/opinions/trump-legislative-weakness-zelizer-opinion/index.html