Anthony Scaramucci, incoming White House communications director, left, follows new White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders into the briefing room...
Alex Brandon

White House sends a provocative shot across the GOP Congress’ bow

In a moment that raised eyebrows in D.C. yesterday, Nancy Pelosi said that if the Republican-led Congress can’t address the nation’s problems, these failing lawmakers should be replaced with members who know how to get things done.

Wait, did I say Nancy Pelosi? My mistake. It was actually White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, apparently indifferent to the fact that it’s her party that controls the legislative branch.

“I don’t think the American people elected Congress to do things that were easy. They elected them to make a government that works, to work properly, and to work for American people. And that’s their job. And if they can’t do it, then they need to get out of the way and let somebody else who can take on a heavy lift and get things accomplished. [„,]

“If Congress doesn’t want to do the job that they were elected to do, then maybe they should get out of the way and let someone else do it.”

In all, the president’s chief spokesperson said three times at yesterday’s briefing that members of the GOP-led Congress should be prepared to “get out of the way” and let someone else do their jobs.

I can’t think of a modern precedent for rhetoric like this, with a White House controlled by one party threatening a Congress controlled by the same party. A former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Sanders’ rhetoric “senselessly provocative.”

And yet, there’s no reason to think Trump World cares. Indeed, the president himself has picked all kinds of fights with individual Republican lawmakers, so Sanders sending a shot across the GOP-led Congress’ bow is consistent with the White House’s curious political strategy.

Don’t be surprised if Sanders’ quote ends up in some Democratic campaign ads next year. It’s a sound bite that could do some damage to incumbent Republicans in 2018, especially if lawmakers end up with no meaningful accomplishments after two years’ worth of work: “If Congress doesn’t want to do the job that they were elected to do, then maybe they should get out of the way and let someone else do it.”

White House

White House sends a provocative shot across the GOP Congress' bow