WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump met with Senate Republicans Tuesday in an effort to project party unity amid the tax reform debate.
It was Trump’s first appearance as president at the Senate Republicans’ regular Tuesday policy lunch.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, wants to gain one big legislative accomplishment by the end of this year, and so he went to Capitol Hill to try to drum up support.
Yet, he is feuding now with two Republican senators.
Trump walked into the Capitol with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) at his side.
“He went to the Hill and met with Republican senators to talk about tax reform; to push his legislative agenda,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “That’s what he’s spending a good bit of this week doing, and will continue doing next week until we get the job done.”
But Trump spent the morning feuding with U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), firing off a series of tweets calling out one of his staunchest Republican critics. He called Corker a “lightweight” senator and referred to him as “liddle” Bob Corker.
Corker, who is retiring after his term ends, put out a tweet of his own as Trump fired off his tweets.
Corker has compared the White House to an adult day care center in the past.
“The President has great difficulty with the truth… on many issues,” Corker said in the Capitol hallway Tuesday morning. “He’s obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.”
Earlier in the day, Corker said on “CBS This Morning” that Trump is “taking things off the table” with regard to the Republicans tax plan process.
“I would let the tax writing committees do their work, I think both the House and Senate has done a lot of preliminary work and stay out of taking things off the table and really negotiating against the process before it even begins,” Corker said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said he hopes Trump and Corker will settle their differences.
“I know Bob, who supported the budget, wants to get tax reform. I know the president wants to get tax reform,” Ryan said. “I have long believed it’s best to settle these things in person.”
But still another Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) also blasted the president Tuesday.
“The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and the alliance are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters,” Flake said.
Flake also said Monday that he will not for re-election next year. White House Press Secretary Sanders said it may be the right way to go.
“Based on the lack of support that he has from the people of Arizona, it’s probably a good move,” she said.
Republicans and the Trump administration are determined to get tax legislation into law this year, and all sides seem to think they can unite around that goal.
The tax plan crafted by Trump and Republican leaders calls for steep tax cuts for corporations and potentially for individuals. It would double the standard deduction used by most Americans, shrink the number of tax brackets from seven to three or four, and repeal inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates. But crucial details of the plan have yet to be worked out, notably what income levels would fit with each tax bracket.
There’s fear among New York lawmakers that the tax plan can take away state and local property and income tax deductions.
High-tax states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut benefit most from the cuts, and taking them away would decimate middle class communities on Long Island, said U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-New York).
“This is wrong. It’s inequitable. I’m going to fight it as hard as I can,” said King, who is taking the drastic step of asking New York Republicans to stop donating to the national GOP. “What I’m saying is that people in New York, business people in New York, who contribute so much money to the Republican party, they shouldn’t contribute anything.”
Some Republicans say the deductions aren’t fair to homeowners in lower tax states.
The House is expected to vote on the Senate’s passed budget proposal this week. House leaders are aiming to unveil their tax bill sometime next week.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)