President Donald Trump's credibility is so low within the Senate that, even when he issues a tweet that seems to undermine their attempt to pass a health care reform bill, it no longer fazes the senators themselves.
"They just need to pass it during the 5 minutes he is supportive," one GOP lobbyist told Axios. That view wasn't just held by anonymous Republicans on Capitol Hill.
"In this town, at this time, change seems to be the norm. It is what it is. So we just work around it," said Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas.
This is something that the senators have not only observed from afar, but experienced firsthand. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told Axios on Wednesday that the president had "completely engineered" the health care deal which he co-sponsored with a Democratic counterpart, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.
"He wanted a bipartisan bill for the short term," Alexander said at the time.
But Trump — despite seeming to support a deal to restore subsidies to health insurers on Tuesday — called out by name Alexander, and explicitly declared that he would "never" back it.
The Trump-denounced measure will still be pursued as one of the Senate's major legislative goals. Part of the reason is that, while the disavowal of most presidents would be a kiss of death for a bill that didn't have the support to override a veto, Trump has flip-flopped so often on health care reform that the Senate no longer seems to take him at his word.
Republicans are most likely banking on the fact that, if they push the bill through their chamber and get it passed in the House, Trump will be so desperate for a political win that he will sign it.