Hill Republicans’ influence ebbs, and they’re not sure what to do about it

Some are privately fuming over the valuable political cover Trump is giving to centrist Democratic senators who are top targets in the 2018 midterms in states the president won. By negotiating with them and appearing at events together, the president is potentially easing their challenge of winning conservative voters…

“To me, the power to lead is the power to persuade,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who took part in a bipartisan dinner with the president this week. “And we need to do a little more persuasion. As Republicans, we need to win more political arguments. Rather than try to muscle a vote, we ought to come up with proposals and find out what works.”

Persuading Democrats to support Republican ideas on tax reform, GOP leaders say, will be very challenging. In the Senate, McConnell’s allies have consistently raised this point — as if to signal to the president that his time may be better spent locking down support in his own party.