President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s tête-à-tête on Tuesday — after a summer of sniping between the two — lifted Republican hopes that the GOP was finally back in sync ahead of a brutal fall of fiscal deadlines.
Not 24 hours later, the president cut a deal with Democrats on a short-term debt ceiling increase opposed by McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Just Wednesday morning, in fact, Ryan had scoffed at the Democratic offer that Trump accepted minutes later.
In the aftermath, Republicans seethed privately and distanced themselves publicly from the deal. They were left to hope that Trump’s collaboration with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was a temporary dalliance, and not the new MO for the president.
“Obviously, it would have been better not to make us vote repeatedly on the debt ceiling. But I wasn’t surprised,” sighed Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). “I think Mitch would rather have done it differently, but it’s not worth having a big old fight over.”
“A three-month debt ceiling? Why not do a daily debt ceiling?” cracked Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). “He’s the best deal-maker ever. Don’t you know? I mean, he’s got a book out!”
Trump’s deal with Democrats doesn’t appear to help Republicans at all. While it averts a fall government shutdown and a default on the nation’s debt until at least December, it also emboldens Democrats to push for immigration changes or spending priorities without giving an inch to the right.
Congress will likely have to strike a major bipartisan fiscal deal in December to raise the debt ceiling long term and keep the government open for the remainder of fiscal 2018. And Republican lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol complained Wednesday that Trump probably just undercut leadership in those future negotiations, making it even harder for them to secure legislative wins.