Career politicians and Washington, D.C. insiders hate President Donald Trump — and his latest move had Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican establishment leaders “visibly upset.”
In other words, the swamp is furious with the White House — something many Trump voters say sounds like evidence the president is doing the right thing.
Trump briskly overruled establishment Republicans when he cut a deal to keep the government operating and raise America’s debt limit. The immediate goal was ensuring money for hurricane relief, but in the process the president brazenly rolled his own party’s leaders.
Shortsighted, say D.C. insiders, who reported that McConnell was “shell-shocked” by the news.
Payback for the GOP establishment’s constant backstabbing, Trump supporters say.
In deal-making mode, Trump sided Wednesday with the Democratic leaders — “Chuck and Nancy,” as he amiably referred later to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — as they pushed for the three-month deal. The deal had the effect of brushing aside the urgings of GOP leaders for a much longer extension to the debt limit.
Republicans want that longer allowance to avoid fixing the politically toxic issue before the 2018 congressional elections.
After an angry August that Trump spent lobbing attacks at fellow Republicans, specifically targeting McConnell for the failure of healthcare legislation, the president wasted little time once Congress came back this week in demonstrating his disdain for the GOP House and Senate leaders charged with shepherding his agenda into law.
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At first, in Wednesday’s Oval Office meeting, the Republicans lobbied for an 18-month debt ceiling extension, then 12 months and then six, but Trump waved them off. As Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued to press an economic argument in favor of a longer term, Trump tired of it and cut him off mid-sentence.
Enough talk, time to act.
After the meeting, Trump boarded a plane to North Dakota with Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in an effort to garner bipartisan support for tax legislation that Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are crafting.
Trump called Heitkamp to the stage at his Dakota event and praised her as a “good woman.” She will be running for re-election against a Republican in November 2018.
Heitkamp later issued a statement saying she needs to know more about Trump’s tax plan before offering her support. “I know the devil is in the details of any reform plan as tax codes are complex, and we need to know what those details are,” she said.
Aboard Air Force One, Trump told reporters, “We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.” He didn’t mention Republicans McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who also had been present. “We agreed to a three-month extension on debt ceiling, which they consider to be sacred, very important.”
“I think the deal will be very good,” Trump added.
Barely an hour earlier, Ryan had slammed the Democrats’ demand for a three-month extension as “ridiculous and disgraceful.” He issued no public statement on the final deal.
McConnell, in his own reserved fashion, did not sugar-coat what happened when he addressed reporters a short time later.
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“In the meeting down at the White House, as I indicated, the president agreed with Sen. Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi to do a three-month CR and a debt ceiling into December, and that’s what I will be offering based on the president’s decision,” McConnell said. “CR” refers to a continuing resolution, which will extend existing government funding levels into mid-December, when the prospect of an enormous new round of deal-making now looms.
The outcome was especially striking, coming just a day after Trump announced he would be dismantling immigration protections for younger immigrants, a program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Trump gave Congress six months to come up with a permanent solution. That announcement had infuriated Democrats, and was not cheered by many Republicans either, since among other things it gives them a politically explosive issue to resolve ahead of the midterm elections.
Taken together, Trump’s moves appeared to show little regard for the political interests of GOP party leaders.
The priority, it seems, is the American people — not re-election campaigns.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article