President Donald Trump may be surrounded by controversy in Washington, D.C., but at the Scott County Republican Party’s annual fall fundraising dinner Tuesday night he won wide praise from GOP leaders who say progress is being made even while they acknowledged some of their priorities have stalled.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann praised the president for new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, the executive order rolling back the Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule as well as proposing a rewrite of the federal tax code.
The fundraiser, at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf, is an annual feature for the party and it drew hundreds of people.
Ernst, the keynote speaker, said the White House is leading on changing the tax code and it’s up to Congress to act quickly.
“That’s what the president expects from us, and that’s what we intend to deliver,” she said.
Ernst acknowledged that attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have failed so far. “I’m feeling your pain,” she said, but added she wouldn’t give up.
Before the dinner, some Republicans said they weren’t happy with the lack of action on priorities like health care and immigration. “I wish they’d get more done in Washington,” said state Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt.
However, some at the dinner were more apt to point the finger — at least on the health care issue — at congressional Republicans who didn’t go along with plans to overhaul the Affordable Care Act than they were to blame Trump.
Mommsen lamented those who had voted previously to repeal the health care law before there was a Republican in the White House “when it didn’t count,” yet balked this year.
Neither Ernst nor Kaufmann brought up the latest controversy between the White House and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said the president was treating his office “like a reality show” and warned of the U.S. veering toward World War III.
The two have traded barbs on Twitter, with Corker comparing the White House to “an adult day care."
In a brief interview after the event, Ernst said both should put a halt to their argument.
"I do wish that both of them would stop. That’s not helpful. We have a lot to work on in Congress and I think that’s what we need to be focusing on. We shouldn’t get distracted," she said.
Asked about the controversy and Corker’s statement that there are other senators who feel the same way he does, Kaufmann said that "there are Senate Republicans who are coming up with reasons for their constituents why they’re not voting … the way they told their constituents they would vote.”