Tax cuts or bust remains the party’s motto for now.
If you were expecting Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) scathing rebuke of President Donald Trump to open a floodgate of similar GOP recriminations, you’d be mistaken.
Most Senate Republicans refrained from weighing in on Corker’s remarkable interview with The New York Times on Sunday, in which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman warned that the president’s volatile behavior and rhetoric could set America “on the path to World War III.”
“He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” Corker said, adding that top White House aides struggled to “contain” Trump’s worst instincts on a daily basis.
Corker, who recently announced he would not seek re-election, also said the “vast majority” of congressional Republicans shared his opinion of the president ― placing pressure on them to speak out as well.
But most of his colleagues on Monday stayed silent or avoided questions on about whether they agreed with Corker’s comments. Their predicament was made somewhat easier by the legislative calendar, as the Senate had already adjourned for a week on Friday.
“Thank goodness tomorrow is recess,” a spokesman for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) tweeted after the Times published its interview with Corker on Sunday.
Not everyone was as lucky.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered some tepid support for Corker when asked about his feud with the president, but his timid comments did little more than to affirm that Corker is, in fact, a Republican, a senator, and a member of the Budget Committee.
“Sen. Corker is a valuable member of the Senate Republican caucus and he’s also on the Budget Committee and a particularly important player as we move to the floor on the budget next week and he’s an important part of our team,” McConnell said, according to The Associated Press.
Asked whether he agreed with Corker’s criticisms of the president, McConnell reiterated that the senator from Tennessee is “an important part of our team and he’s a particularly important part of the budget debate which will be on the floor next week.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the influential Senate Judiciary Committee, offered more candid comments about Corker’s spat with Trum. But he too avoided taking sides.
“Both ought to cool it,” Grassley said at an event in Iowa. “I got more important things to do doing my job then to go tell Corker to keep his mouth shut or to tell the president something.”
Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), who serves with Corker on the Foreign Relations Committee, and who is likely to succeed him as chairman, took a similar tactic in a statement issued to The Washington Post on Monday.