Democratic Lawmakers Align with President Trump on Key Issues
President Donald Trump and Democrats align on adding a 3-month extension of the US debt limit and government spending to a hurricane-relief bill over the arguments of fellow Republicans, who pressed for a longer debt extension.
Wednesday, President Trump, after meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House, told reporters on Air Force One that the deal with Democrats would be “very good.”
“We agreed to a 3-month extension on debt ceiling, which they consider to be sacred — very important — always we’ll agree on debt ceiling automatically because of the importance of it,” our President said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters he’ll add the spending and debt-limit extensions to the Hurricane Harvey relief package passed by the House earlier in the day. He said he will support the measure.
“The President agreed with Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi to do a three-month CR and debt ceiling until December,” said Senator McConnell. “His feeling was that we needed to come together to not create a picture of divisiveness at a time of genuine national crisis.”
CR is shorthand for a stopgap government spending bill.
Earlier, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) who was in the meeting with President Trump told reporters the Democratic proposal was “unworkable” and “ridiculous.”
Expect the President and Senator McConnell to prevail.
The plan would extend the US debt limit and provide funds to keep the government running through 15 December, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (NY) and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) said in a joint statement.
While rates on US Treasury bills maturing around the previous late-September debt-limit deadline outlined by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plunged, they surged on securities coming due around mid-December, suggesting Wall Street bond traders see some uncertainty ahead. The yield on Treasury bills maturing 14 December rose by about 8bpts to 1.046%.
“Both sides have every intention of avoiding default in December and look forward to working together on the many issues before us,” Senator Schumer and Ms. Pelosi said in their statement.
Later, Senator Schumer told reporters, “We thought for the good of the country we should make the right offer and we did, and we’re very glad the President accepted it.”
Conservative groups criticized the deal, saying it weakens the hands of Republicans by giving Democrats more power over a spending bill at the end of the year. Creating a fiscal and debt deadline just before the holidays pressures lawmakers to vote for a deal to get home to their families, they said.
But White House legislative affairs chief Marc Short told reporters on Air Force One that “clearing the decks” will allow lawmakers to focus on a GOP priority: overhauling the tax code.
Some people familiar with the meeting said President Trump and Congressional leaders had a prolonged discussion on how long to extend the debt limit, and after Democrats rejected GOP leaders’ proposed 18-month and 6-month extensions, eventually the President agreed with Democrats on a 3-month plan.
At that point, Senator McConnell stepped in to say a short-term government spending bill should also be added, 1 person said.
Senate Republican leaders planned to use the measure to suspend the debt ceiling past the November 2018 congressional elections, but President Trump’s move shredded their strategy.
The US House passed $7.4-B for a federal disaster-relief fund Wednesday, just 2 days before it’s set to run out. The measure, passed 419-3, is designed to provide relief to 10’s of thousands of homeowners from flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and other parts of the Gulf Coast.
Additional FEMA funding is to be provided later, according to House aides.
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