Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended his relationship with President Trump in an impromptu White House press conference Monday, and told reporters the two men share the same agenda and talk frequently, including on weekends.
"We've been friends and acquaintances for a very long time," said McConnell, R-Ky. "We talk frequently on the weekends and on the issues that are before us."
The two men downplayed reports that there is a rift between them, due in part to the Senate's inability to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
McConnell, who met privately with Trump Monday, said the Senate this week will vote on a fiscal 2018 budget, which will serve as the legislative vehicle for tax reform, and will then take up a $36.5 billion disaster relief package passed by the House last week.
McConnell said he wants to finish tax reform this year but suggested it could take longer, noting former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law and banking reform law passed well into the second year of his term.
"Our goal is to get it done this calendar year," McConnell said. He said he believed the Senate will pass tax changes that focus on "reduction and reform."
McConnell praised President Trump's conservative judicial choices, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and lower court judges.
He also downplayed efforts by former Obama advisor Steve Bannon to boost more conservative Senate candidates running against GOP incumbents. McConnell said he rejected that approach.
"My goal is … to keep us in the majority. You have to nominate people who can actually win in November," McConnell said. "That's my approach. That is the way you keep a governing majority."