The establishment wing of the Republican Party is reportedly being hit by a surging revolt from their donors — from whom the establishment gets its financial lifeblood — amid the failure of GOP leadership to get its agenda through Congress.
According to Politico, mega-donor Thomas Wachtell urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “just do something” at a recent L.A. dinner. McConnell reportedly responded by noting that passing legislation takes time, but such a plea was not greeted favorably by attendees.
“You’re never going to get a more sympathetic Republican than I am,” Wachtell said, noting he had stopped giving money to the Senate GOP. “But I’m sick and tired of nothing happening.”
McConnell has been the focus of donor and conservative anger mainly because it is in his chamber when legislation has been stalling or dying outright. Most significantly, the promise to repeal Obamacare — a plank of the Republican platform since the law was passed — has been killed in the Senate twice.
Tax reform, another key agenda item, looks uncertain and is well behind schedule partly because of the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. The only major item that looks like it may pass by year’s end is a “comprehensive immigration reform” bill that includes amnesty for illegal immigrants brought to the country illegally — precisely what Trump voters voted against in 2016.
The donors’ frustration has long been shared by President Trump, who over the summer ditched McConnell and his counterpart in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), to work with Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to make a deal on raising the debt ceilings.
McConnell was also dealt a serious defeat at the state level when establishment-backed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) was beaten in the Alabama Senate primary by Judge Roy Moore — despite Strange outspending Moore by as much as 10-1.
But as McConnell and his allies find themselves unable to set the legislative agenda, despite controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House, Politico reports that more and more donors are keeping hold of their cash until they see results. This could seriously hurt the establishment of needed cash as they prepare for the 2018 midterms, where they may also see a wave of conservative challengers to their favored candidates.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-SC), who oversees fundraising for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told colleagues that donations had tanked after the failure to repeal Obamacare.
Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa donor and agribusiness mogul, reportedly told Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst that he was not donating “unless they pass new legislation or get new leadership.”
Roy Bailey, a Dallas-based GOP bundler put the dilemma for donors simply: “I think major donors are tired of writing checks to a do-nothing Congress.”
That anger at leadership has also spread to top administration officials. On Tuesday, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, Nick Ayers, reportedly told donors that a “purge” was needed of GOP leaders who are working against the president’s agenda.
Ayers petitioned the donors at the meeting to form a coalition of donors to offer an ultimatum to McConnell and his allies: get President Donald Trump’s agenda through by year’s end or “we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.”
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.