Dear Commons Community,
On Wednesday, in a rare show of bipartisanship, President Trump struck a deal with Democratic congressional leaders to increase the debt limit and finance the government until mid-December. The Republican-led Senate yesterday approved legislation to raise the debt limit and keep the government funded until December while providing $15 billion in disaster aid. The Senate approved the measure 80 to 17. All of the senators voting no were Republicans. The agreement averts a fiscal showdown later this month without the bloody, partisan battle that many had anticipated by combining a debt ceiling increase and stopgap spending measure with relief aid to Texas and other areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey. As reported by the New York Times:
“In embracing the three-month deal, Mr. Trump accepted a Democratic proposal that had been rejected earlier in the day by Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. Mr. Trump’s snap decision at a White House meeting caught Republican leaders off guard and reflected friction between the president and his party. After weeks of criticizing Republican leaders for failing to pass legislation, Mr. Trump signaled that he was willing to cross party lines to score some much-desired legislative victories
By the time President Trump woke up on yesterday morning, he was feeling upbeat. And as he watched television news reports about his fiscal agreement with Democrats, he felt like telling someone.
He picked up the phone and called the two Democratic congressional leaders, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California. “The press has been incredible,” he gushed to Ms. Pelosi, according to someone briefed on their call. He was equally effusive with Mr. Schumer, boasting that even Fox News was positive.
A few hours later, Mr. Trump went on TV himself, vowing to turn a one-time spending-and-debt deal brokered out of expediency into a more enduring bipartisan alliance that could transform his presidency. He signaled openness to a Democratic proposal to eliminate the perennial showdowns over the debt ceiling, and he repeated his desire to cut a deal to protect younger illegal immigrants from deportation.
But even as Republicans fumed at being sidelined, many in Washington were skeptical that the moment of comity would last. Although Mr. Trump has at times preached bipartisanship, he has never made it a central part of his governing strategy. While he may have been feeling energized on Thursday by the collaboration, he is a politician driven by the latest expression of approval, given to abrupt shifts in approach and tone. He is a man of the moment, and the moment often does not last.
There are also reasons to doubt whether Democrats would sustain a partnership with Mr. Trump beyond the deal they have cut to keep the government open for three months and paying its debts. The centrifugal forces of partisanship tug from the left as well as the right, and the liberal base has put pressure on Democratic lawmakers not to meet in the middle a president it loathes.
For one day, though, the two sides sought to put months of acrimony behind them. “I think we will have a different relationship than we’ve been watching over the last number of years. I hope so,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “I think that’s a great thing for our country. And I think that’s what the people of the United States want to see. They want to see some dialogue. They want to see coming together to an extent.”
Democrats expressed a blend of optimism and caution. “We’ll see,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview. “I think it would be much better for the country and much better for Donald Trump if he was much more in the middle and bipartisan rather than siding with the hard right. I think he got a taste of it yesterday. We’ll see if it continues. I hope it does.”
Congratulations to Trump, Schumer, Pelosi, and all the Republican senators who voted for this legislation. This is the way our government is suppose to work!