President Donald Trump sided with Democrats during a crucial meeting on the debt ceiling and other congressional priorities Wednesday, bucking his own Treasury secretary and leaving key members of his party furious.
The meeting was designed to discuss legislation to provide relief for Hurricane Harvey, raise or suspend the debt ceiling, and fund the government past the end of September.
According to a source briefed on the meeting, the two sides had come to a stalemate on the length of the debt ceiling extension — with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin advocating for a longer-term suspension of the limit. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wanted a three-month extension.
Trump interjected and sided with the Democrats, eventually sealing the deal with a three-month suspension of the limit, a three-month funding bill, and a package for Hurricane Harvey relief.
Trump’s decision to side with Democrats appears to have ruffled feathers in his own party.
McConnell noted during a press conference that Trump had agreed to the deal with the Democratic leaders, reluctantly saying he would support the measure.
“In a meeting down at the White House, the president and the Senate and the House Democratic leadership agreed to a three-month continuing resolution and moving the debt ceiling into December. I will be adding that as an amendment to the flood relief bill that’s come over from the House, on the floor,” McConnell said. “I will be supporting it and that will obviously be the biggest item for the week.”
Ryan, in a press conference just hours before the meeting, blasted the three-month extension proposal from Schumer and Pelosi as a “ridiculous idea.”
“I think its ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment when we have fellow citizens in need,” Ryan said just a few hours before Trump agreed to the deal.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who has been critical of Trump at times, expressed his disappointed with the deal in a succinct statement following the announcement.
“The Pelosi-Schumer-Trump deal is bad,” Sasse said.
Additionally, other GOP aides were incensed with the deal. One told Axios’ Jonathan Swan that Democrats “bluffed their way into total victory” and another told Politico that Trump “handed a loaded gun to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.”
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