Republicans control Congress and the White House, but the reality of having only a two-party system in America guarantees many factions within them that could easily make governing difficult.
"Presidents have learned the hard way they can't always count on their parties supporting them," Brian Balogh, an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia, told The Christian Science Monitor.
The American Health Care Act, touted as fulfilling a longstanding GOP pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare, was pulled twice from a House floor vote last month because of bitter opposition by conservatives.
Congress is also working feverishly to pass a spending bill to avert a federal government shutdown Friday.
"Unified control is not a silver bullet," Sarah Binder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told a National Press Foundation seminar earlier this year. "There are a lot of barriers to a party working its will."
One barrier is the difficulty of simply passing legislation, according to the Monitor.
Major proposals attract much attention, along with public comment and lobbying from citizens and special interests. If the rancor does not challenge party leaders and their objectives, it slows the process.
"These things look very simple . . . when you are looking in from the outside, Arkansas Sen. John Boozman told the Monitor. "As we know, being here, these are difficult things to get done."
The relationship between the White House and Congress can be difficult – Jimmy Carter notoriously had a tough time with his Democratic Congress – and the biggest obstacle to one-party control often is "the parties themselves aren't homogeneous," the Monitor reported.
"These factions are what has done in the best intentions of presidents of both parties," Balogh said.
With a thin majority in the Senate, 52-46, Republicans must reach out to Democrats, particularly on major legislation.
Failing to do so earlier this month, for instance, led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to invoke the "nuclear option" to confirm Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
He was approved by a simple majority vote to fill the seat created by the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia last year.
"You've got to build a coalition and get stuff that you can actually get enacted," South Carolina Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, told the Monitor. "The lesson coming out of a lot of this is that we want to make sure we get it right; it's better than getting it fast."
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