Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget and a former congressman from South Carolina, said on “Meet the Press” that both the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group share blame for sinking the American Health Care Act.
“You could blame it on the Freedom Caucus if you want to but there’s also a lot of moderates — Charlie Dent will be on your show in a little bit — who are also against the bill, and so it’s sort of the powers that be in Washington that won,” said Mulvaney, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus.
“Is the Republican Party capable of governing?” Mulvaney asked. “I know the man in the White House is capable of governing. I saw it this week.”
Trump tweeted Sunday morning that the Freedom Caucus is to blame for the spectacular failure of his first major piece of legislation.
Mulvaney painted the White House and the president as blameless victims.
“What happened is that Washington won,” he said. “I think the one thing we learned this week is that Washington is a lot more broken than President Trump thought that it was.”
“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd questioned Mulvaney’s blaming of Washington by noting that Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives since 2011 and the Senate since 2015. The party now has unified control.
“I think, more importantly, we haven’t been able to change Washington in the first 65 days,” Mulvaney responded. He added that the process was “educational for the Trump administration” because it revealed that “this place was a lot more rotten than we thought it was.”
It wasn’t clear if Mulvaney believes that his former compatriots in the Freedom Caucus are now part of the broken and rotten Washington machine.
Mulvaney also said he had never heard the president blame Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for the bill’s failure.
Trump appeared to passively endorse a searing criticism of Ryan’s leadership when he tweeted for people to watch the Fox News program “Justice with Judge Jeanine” on Saturday night. In that very program, host Jeanine Pirro called for Ryan to step down as speaker.