Donald Trump may have managed to unilaterally reject a global climate pact, but the US president faces uphill battles to achieve his legislative priorities, with Congress consumed by division and distracted by Russia probes and looming fiscal deadlines.
When he addressed a gathering Thursday in the White House Rose Garden, Trump used his executive authority to declare that “we’re getting out” of the Paris climate accord.
It is less simple on Capitol Hill, where political novice Trump has endured a rough education in Washington dealmaking since taking office in January.
In the opening months, he has learned how little control he has over Congress, even when its two chambers are led by his own Republican Party.
Lawmakers return to Washington on Monday under pressure to advance Trump’s agenda, notably bills to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s health care reforms and overhaul US tax law.
In the absence of major legislative victories, and with crises roiling the White House – including a bombshell report that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner sought a secret communications link to Russia – the Trump administration is desperate for a rallying win.
But there is a shrinking window for success; Congress has just seven work weeks before its members head home in late July for a summer recess that lasts until early September.
White House officials have privately expressed frustration with the slow pace on Capitol Hill, as well as some embarrassment about how an initial effort to ram health care changes through the House of Representatives collapsed in March.
A revised Obamacare repeal bill passed the House in May, and Senate Republicans are crafting their own version. But even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has acknowledged it will be difficult to pass it through the Senate, where Republicans have a narrow 52-48 majority.