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Trump steps up criticism of Senate leader over ACA repeal failure

President Donald Trump on Aug. 10 stepped up his criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blaming him for the chamber's failure to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.

"Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed repeal [and] replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must repeal [and] replace ObamaCare!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Later, he tweeted that McConnell, who is on a summer recess until the first week in September along with all of the other members of Congress should "get back to work" and put ACA repeal and replace, tax reform and infrastructure legislation on Trump's desk.

A day earlier, Trump took McConnell to task on Twitter, arguing the Senate chief was wrong when he said during his Aug. 8 remarks at a Kentucky rotary club that the president had "excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."

McConnell noted Trump had "not been in this line of work before," and said that "too many artificial deadlines, unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating," had been set.

But speaking to reporters Aug. 10 from his New Jersey golf club while on his own summer vacation, Trump said the Senate's failure to pass its healthcare legislation in July was a "disgrace" — noting particularly that McConnell had missed by one vote in getting the Republicans' so-called "skinny repeal" bill across the finish line.

Trump said he was "very disappointed" in McConnell, insisting Republican congressional leaders should have had the ACA repeal legislation "on my desk virtually the first week" or even "the first day" he was in the White House.

The Senate leader acknowledged Aug. 1 he had failed to muster enough Republican votes to pass the healthcare reform legislation — even declaring it was not the fault of the Democrats.

Trump declined to say whether McConnell should step down as the Republicans' leader in the Senate, saying only that "if he doesn't get repeal and replace done, if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Aug. 10 in New Jersey that Trump and McConnell had talked by phone a day earlier, but declined to elaborate on the conversation.

"You can see the president's tweets," she said. "Obviously, there's some frustration."

But several Republican senators defended McConnell, including Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who is working with the chamber's leader to get tax reform legislation written.

In a tweet, Hatch said McConnell "has been the best leader we've had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges. I fully support him."

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted that McConnell "does a tough job well. He has my support."

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., also shared his support for McConnell on Twitter, declaring the Senate leader would "continue to lead our caucus" and "bring us closer together to keep the promises we made to the American people."

"Now more than ever, all GOP officials must work together so we can advance our shared agenda to create opportunity for all Americans," Tillis said in another tweet.