White House staffing shake-ups have created a communications void between the Trump administration and congressional Republicans, The Hill reports, citing unnamed GOP sources.
Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, both of whom were fired this summer, were the primary contacts for Capitol Hill staff and legislators seeking to coordinate the Republican agenda with the Trump team. Bannon has yet to be replaced, and the new chief of staff, John Kelly, lacks the established personal relationships Priebus had cultivated for years.
"There is great respect for John Kelly but no real belief that anyone else can effectively carry out the Trump agenda until Kelly replaces Bannon with a conservative leader," one House Republican explained to The Hill. "Kelly is definitely a huge force, but I don't know him," said another. While Vice President Mike Pence has good relationships with many lawmakers, some legislators prefer to reach out to Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, a former representative, to avoid bothering Pence about smaller matters.
The selection to fill Bannon's shoes will be key to re-establishing rapport between congressional and executive branch Republicans, sources told The Hill. The current situation has raised concerns that President Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner — hardly staunch conservatives — are now the dominant advising voices in the White House.