President Trump has shocked political experts yet again.
The Washington Post reports that Trump made a deal with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on government funding and the debt ceiling.
Trump’s announcement has undone months of negotiation on those two issues. It has also deepened the divide between Trump and the leadership duo of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Trump, who has never been aligned with the mainstream Republican Party, appears to be distancing himself from them even further. His aides report that he is displeased with McConnell and Ryan, whom he sees as weak, and that he does not want to be associated with Republican gridlock and policy failure.
The president reached an agreement with Pelosi and Schumer at a meeting at the White House.
The agreement postpones the conflict over fiscal policy until December. One of the many issues that remains up for debate is President Trump’s controversial border wall.
According to a source who was present at the meeting, Trump interrupted treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin’s extended defense of a longer-term debt ceiling increase to disagree with him. He then went into “deal-cutting mode.”
McConnell said that he would add provisions extending government funding and increasing the debt limit to a House bill that also earmarks $7.85 billion for Hurricane Harvey relief.
Moving the debt ceiling debate to December allows the Democrats to remain relevant in current policy discussions. If the president had pushed the issue, Democrats would have found themselves trying to extract concessions with nothing more than the empty threat of voting against legislation that included aid for Hurricane Harvey.
The December vote may also allow President Trump to renew his threat to shut down the government over funding for the border wall. However, the postponed vote also appears to interfere with Trump’s signature tax legislation.
At the same meeting, the president signaled tacit support for a “Dreamers” bill that would formalize President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump has started to phase out the current DACA program.
In another show of bipartisanship, President Trump invited Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) to appear with him at an oil refinery in Mandan, N.D. Heitkamp is up for reelection and is projected to face an uphill battle in a state that Trump won by 36 percentage points.