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Sen. Lindsey Graham had a frank assessment of the GOP’s electoral hopes if the party doesn’t get tax reform passed.
“Yeah, if we don’t, we’re dead,” said the South Carolina senator on CBS’ “Face The Nation” when he was asked if Congress would pass tax reform this year.
Graham then preemptively brought up the supposed primary challenges being organized by Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and leader of the alt-right website Breitbart News.
Bannon pledged to field primary challengers for six of the seven incumbent GOP senators in 2018 because, in his opinion, they are not doing enough to support President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Graham said that the threat to the GOP isn’t necessarily Bannon, but that his push is the “symptom of a greater problem” for the party that they haven’t delivered on the headline legislative promises from the 2016 election.
“If we don’t cut taxes and we don’t eventually repeal and replace Obamacare, then we’re going to lose across the board in the House in 2018,” Graham said. “And all of my colleagues running in primaries in 2018 will probably get beat.”
Graham was then asked about Bannon’s attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom Bannon has targeted heavily. While Graham said that the failure to pass tax reform would be “the end of Mitch McConnell as we know it,” that is not because of McConnell in particular.
“Mitch McConnell’s not our problem,” Graham said. “Our problem is that we promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and we failed. We promised to cut taxes and we have yet to do it. If we’re successful, Mitch McConnell’s fine. If we’re not, we’re all in trouble.”
As it stands now, tax reform is already on a very tight deadline, with the House in session for just 28 more days this calendar year. Additionally, come December, Congress must deal with a bill to fund the government and other year-end deadlines.
Despite this, Graham said the electoral fallout from not getting any major legislative wins in the first year of the Trump presidency would be disastrous.
“Bannon can’t beat us if we’re successful,” he concluded. “And if we’re not successful, it doesn’t matter who tries to beat us, they’ll be successful.”