GOP legislators caught off-guard by Trump’s sudden move
Developments on Day 230 of the Trump Administration:
Trump Agreement with Democratic Legislators Over Debt Limit and Short-Term Finance
Surprising Republican leaders, Donald Trump agrees with top Democrats in Congress to increase the Federal Government’s debt limit and provide finance until mid-December.
Trump announced the shift after a meeting with the Senate and House Minority Leaders, Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
The agreement, the first by Trump with Democrats since he became President, would avert a showdown at the end of September. The Trump Administration is far from getting approval for its budget, and six months of supplementary finance for the Government runs out on October 1.
Trump accepted a Democratic proposal combining relief aid to Texas and other areas after Hurrican Harvey with funding until December 15, which in turn required the lifting of the debt ceiling. The initiative had been rejected earlier in the day by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who apparently thought he had Trump’s support over the “ridiculous and disgraceful” plan: ““To play politics with the debt ceiling, like Schumer and Pelosi apparently are doing, I don’t think is a good idea.”
Congressional aides said Republicans went into the White House meeting with the offer of an 18-month deal on government spending and the debt limit. Rebuffed by the Democrats, they proposed a six-month deal as a compromise, but Democrats insisted on the three-month agreement. Trump then surprised the Republicans by agreeing.
Democrats Exult, GOP Conservatives Fume
A day after his Administration announced the suspension of the “Dreamers” program for young undocumented immigrants, Trump also said he wanted to work with Democrats to legalize President Obama’s 2013 order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” Trump told reporters. “Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I.”
Trump did not mention that Ryan and other Republican leaders were also present.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell carefully said afterwards, “Look, the President can speak for himself, but his feeling was that we needed to come together to not create a picture of divisiveness at a time of genuine national crisis, and that was the rationale.”
In contrast, Schumer was effusive:
It was a really good moment of some bipartisanship. The bottom line is the president listened to the arguments. We think we made a very reasonable and strong argument. And to his credit, he went with the better argument.
A North Dakota Gesture to Democrats
Offering another olive branch, Trump hosted Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota as he flew to the state to talk about tax proposals on Wednesday.
Heitkamp, the first Democratic legislator invited on the Presidential plane since January, was brought on stage at the event. Trump said:
Everyone’s saying, “What’s she doing up here?” But I’ll tell you what — good woman. And I think we’ll have your support. I hope we’ll have your support. And thank you very much, Senator.
Conservatives responded angrily. Representative Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, said, “The question of politics is, a deal to what end? I think all of us as taxpayers need to be very skeptical of deals for the sake of deals.” Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, reacted, “I’m still processing this, but my first instinct is I’m not very happy about it.”
The hard-right outlet Breitbart, led by recently-departed White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, was slow to respond. But when it did, the headlines were “Meet the Swamp: Donald Trump Punts September Agenda to December After Meeting with Congress…Rallies with Dem Sen Heitkamp“.
In contrast to his normal practice, Trump offered no Twitter promotion of his agreement with the Democrats. Instead, he tweeted about the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma, thanked North Dakota politicians — including the Democrat Heitkamp, and proclaimed support for American companies.