Hours before President Donald Trump is set to attend a lunch with GOP senators to discuss tax reform, Sen. Bob Corker said Tuesday that Congress should be allowed to do its work without interference from the White House.
Donald Trump’s visit with senators is part of a White House push to expedite the president’s goal of implanting a major tax cut and an overhaul of the tax code. But Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that Trump’s trip to Capitol Hill is little more than a “photo op” and that the president should allow Congress to shape the forthcoming tax package.
“Tax writing committees in the Senate and the House are going to be laying out the $4 trillion in loophole closings that need to take place. Hopefully the White House will step aside and let that occur in a normal process,” he told NBC’s “Today” show. “I know recently, the House in a couple of cases, has been taking things off the table. I would just say, there’s a lot of work to be done. The spinach part of this, the tough part of this, is upcoming over the next several weeks.”
The president, however, took to Twitter Tuesday morning to say Corker "couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee."
Fresh off of a summer that featured a pair of failures by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare, the White House has been eager to score a legislative victory and has pushed hard on tax reform. Republicans have warned one another that a failure on another of Trump’s campaign promises could imperil the party’s majorities in Congress.
Trump’s Tuesday lunch with Republican senators will bring him face-to-face with a handful of GOP lawmakers, Corker among them, who have been publicly critical of the president. Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has said he will not run for reelection in 2018, told The New York Times earlier this month that Trump has treated his presidency like “a reality show” and expressed concern that the president might put the nation “on the path to World War III.” He later publicly feuded with Trump on Twitter, posting "It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning" after the president criticized him.
Corker said Tuesday that Trump’s recent interactions with members of Congress should suggest that the White House might find more success on tax reform if it keeps its distance as lawmakers craft legislation.
“I think that that’s the best way for us to have a success. But I think it’s fine for him to come over,” he said. “I do look at these things as more of a photo op. They’re not really about substance, but you know, more power to him.”