President Trump abandoned his own party on Wednesday and sided with a plan proposed by Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default next month. The three-month, short term deal will secure initial funding for the Hurricane Harvey relief and also leverage Democrats to negotiate other pressing issues in the coming weeks. Still to be discussed is the future of healthcare, the fate of our Dreamers, and government funding upon the end of the three-month term.
The short-term increase will force Republicans through multiple debt-ceiling votes before the 2018 midterms. According to Politico, the deal could ultimately lead to a government shutdown in December should Republicans find themselves unable to come up with the votes to raise the debt ceiling. The three-month term also postpones the battle on government funding, including tax reform and Trump’s promised border wall, until the end of the term. The threat of default could force an already fractured and increasingly unpopular Republican party into concession with Democratic interests to avoid political disaster in the 2018 elections.
Trump reportedly sat down with congressional leaders to negotiate the deal. Republicans Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell initially argued for an eighteen-month deal and negotiated it down to six, however, Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi came out on top when Trump abruptly agreed to their three-month plan despite party ties and the Treasury Secretary’s request for a long-term deal.
Trump’s choice to side with the Democratic agenda holds political consequences – Republicans are now claiming that Trump doesn’t realize the breadth of negotiating power that he has handed over to the other party (which is likely true). Politico reports that although top Republicans like Ryan are deeply critical of the deal, they have been known to support short-term increases in the past in order to position themselves for negotiation on key party initiatives. Ryan called the Democrats’ plan “ridiculous” hours before Trump sided with Pelosi and Schumer.
After the negotiation was made, McConnell introduced “legislation to extend current spending levels and the federal borrowing limit until Dec. 8 and increase disaster funding to $15.25 billion”, in preparation for Hurricane Irma, according to The Washington Post.