President Trump on Monday used his first full-fledged Cabinet meeting to try to make a case that, despite the Russian investigation and other distractions, his administration is racking up accomplishments at a record clip.
“Never has there been a president, with few exceptions — case of FDR, he had a major depression to handle — who has passed more legislation and who has done more things than what we’ve done,” Trump, referring to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, said during the meeting at the White House.
“I think we’ve been about as active as you can possibly be at a just about record-setting pace,” Trump said.
The meeting was also notable in that Trump allowed his Cabinet members, in full view of the media, to take turns praising him and his policy agenda.
“We thank you for the opportunity and blessing . . . to serve your agenda,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said in remarks that were echoed by other senior members of the administration.
Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, also lavished Trump with praise, saying “what an incredible honor it is” to lead his department “at this pivotal time under your leadership.”
“I can't thank you enough for the privileges you've given me and the leadership that you've shown,” Price said.
While Trump has issued a flurry of executive orders, Congress has yet to pass any of his marquee agenda items, including a revamp of the Affordable Care Act, a tax-code overhaul or an infrastructure package. Most bills that Trump has signed have been modest in nature, including several rolling back regulations adopted in the closing stretch of President Barack Obama’s tenure.
Conservatives have also touted the confirmation of Trump’s first pick for Supreme Court justice, Neil M. Gorsuch.
Trump began the meeting by berating Democrats for taking longer than he wanted to confirm his Cabinet picks and accused them of being obstructionists on his high-profile agenda items.
“If we had the greatest bill in the history of the world on health care, we wouldn't get one vote from the Democrats, because they're obstructionists,” Trump said. “That's what they want to do. That's the game. They think that's their best political gain.”
During the meeting, Trump also announced that he would hold a news conference in two weeks to lay out his administration’s plan to fight the Islamic State terrorist group.
He said his administration had already taken steps to cut off funding for terrorist groups.
“We are stopping the funding of terrorism,” Trump said. “You have to starve the beast, and we’re going to starve the beast.”