The split over trade is hardly the first time that Trump has drawn criticism from Republicans for breaking party orthodoxy. Just last month, for example, the Chamber demanded that Trump end his Administration’s zero-tolerance policy at the border that split parents from their children. The powerful collection of advocacy groups affiliated with billionaires Charles and David Koch have been outspoken critics of Trump’s views and policies on immigration, trade and tariffs. “Keep in mind, 55% of all votes cast in the Republican primaries went for someone not named Trump,” one Republican strategist who worked against the Trump campaign tells TIME. “We tried to stop this.”
Intellectually, Republicans in the House and Senate get what these outside groups are saying. Many lawmakers privately agree with these boosters. But attempts by Congress to rein in the President’s trade policies are largely non-starters. Retiring Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee fought to include a check on Trump, only to be sidelined by fellow Republicans who rightly note that while the President’s approval rating isn’t stellar, it’s still better than that of Congress.
Moreover, those disagreements have been outweighed by delight that the President has delivered on areas like tax cuts, boosts to military spending and judges.