Give Trump a Chance, Alexander Says

Tennessee Republican strikes tone of harmony as Senate GOP tries to pass tax code overhaul

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said he would continue working with the Trump administration to advance the GOP agenda. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump was elected by the American people to navigate the U.S. through uncertain times, Sen. Lamar Alexander said Monday, and lawmakers should “give the president a chance.”

The Tennessee Republican told CNBC that while Trump “does things and says things that I don’t do, and that I don’t approve of,” he is the person that Americans “entrusted with the presidency, and I’m going to try to help him succeed.”

Alexander was responding to questions regarding outgoing Senate GOP colleagues, including fellow Tennesseean Bob Corker, who have recently aired words of caution about Trump’s stewardship of the Republican Party.

Arizona Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain are two other vocal critics of the president.

Flake was caught on an open microphone Saturday saying if Republicans “become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.”

Alexander said he does not focus his attention on special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

“I don’t think there needs to be one more person, and I’m not going to be one more person, spending most of my time worrying about an investigation that we have a special prosecutor undertaking, that we have the intelligence committee undertaking,” Alexander said. “Let them do their job. I’ll do my job.”

Senate Republicans are working to pass their version of a tax code overhaul so that it can go to a reconciliation committee with the House, which passed its bill last Thursday.

GOP leadership is considering including repeal of the individual health care mandate in the Senate tax bill. The provision is unappetizing for some moderate Senate Republicans, who say that in order to secure their vote, the tax bill must be paired with a bipartisan bill introduced by Alexander and Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray to stabilize the individual health care markets.

“I think that there is a path and I think the path is a reasonable path,” GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said of her support for the tax bill. “If the Congress is going to move forward with repeal of the individual mandate, we absolutely must have the Alexander-Murray piece that is passed into law.”

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