Breaking News Emails
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump blamed "obstructionist" Democrats for slowing his agenda Monday, even as he lauded his success as historic — an assessment many of his Cabinet members lined up, one by one, to endorse.
Meeting at the White House with his entire Cabinet for the first time, Trump used his opening remarks to blame Democrats for delaying the meeting, saying they'd held up key appointments in the Senate to score political points.
"They are obstructionists, and that's sad. But we are coming up with something that I believe will be very, very good with zero support from the obstructionists," he said.
(Senate rules require only 51 votes to confirm presidential appointees, so the Republican majority has enough votes to approve Trump's picks on its own. Democrats can do little more than delay the process.)
Trump went on to boast that he had already accomplished more than most other presidents in U.S. history.
"Never has there been a president — with few exceptions, in the case of FDR, he had a major Depression to handle — who's passed more legislation, who's done more things than what we've done," Trump said. "I think we've been about as active as you can possibly be at a just about record-setting pace."
Trump added that he was following through on his campaign promises "at a much faster pace than anyone thought," citing executive orders, the rollback of government regulations and 34 bills passed by Congress.
Many Cabinet members rushed to agree.
As Trump went around the large table, one by one, most praised the president, while others gave brief updates on their departments' work.
When it was his turn, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said it was "an honor to be on team," telling Trump that "my hat is off to you" for pulling the United States out of Paris climate agreement.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley proclaimed "a new day at the U.N.," where she said Trump has provided "a very strong voice."
"People know what the United States is for," Haley said. "They know what we're against. They see us leading across the board."
And the tributes kept coming:
- Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price: "Mr. President, what an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this time under your leadership."
- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke: "As your [Navy] SEAL on your staff, it's an honor to be your steward of your public lands."
- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: "Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to fix the trade deficit."
- Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue: "I wanted to congratulate you on the men and women you place around this table. ... I want to thank you for that. These are great team members."
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus went even further, telling Trump: "We thank you for opportunity and blessing you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people."
As for Vice President Mike Pence, working under Trump has been "the greatest privilege of my life," he said.
It was all too much for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who tweeted a "staff meeting" parodying the White House flattery festival.
Meanwhile, almost all of the legislation signed by Trump has been relatively small-bore; many of those measures include naming people to positions and designating buildings.
Congressional Republicans have increasingly voiced concern about the slow pace of legislative accomplishments on health care, tax reform and other issues. As for nominations, the real bottleneck in the process, Democrats and others say, is at the White House, which has yet to appointment nominees to fill many vacant positions in the government.
Alex Seitz-Wald reported from Washington. Alex Johnson reported from Los Angeles.