President Trump sided with congressional Democratic leaders Wednesday and struck a deal to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government through December 15. The measures will be attached to a bill providing nearly $8 billion in funding for communities hit by Hurricane Harvey.
In agreeing to the three-month debt-limit extension, Trump went against the wishes of his own Treasury secretary and congressional GOP leaders. CNN reports that Republicans initially wanted an 18-month increase, but eventually backed down to six months. After Democrats remained committed to the three-month hike, Trump agreed. Here’s how one person briefed on the meeting described it to BuzzFeed.
“McConnell, Ryan, McCarthy, and the President’s own Treasury Secretary, [Steven] Mnuchin, all advocated for a longer debt limit extension than what Schumer and Pelosi called for. Basically everyone with an R behind their name,” the source said. “There was an expected standstill in the meeting on this point and the congressional leaders were basically going to agree to disagree, and then unexpectedly the president said basically let’s just all agree and do three and three. Three month CR and three month debt limit with Harvey.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained Trump’s eagerness to strike a deal after the meeting. “His feeling was that we needed to come together to not create a picture of divisiveness at a time of genuine national crisis,” McConnell said.
“We had a very good meeting,” Trump said on Air Force One on his way to an event in North Dakota. “We essentially came to a deal and I think the deal will be very good.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was in the meeting, had previously called the idea of a three-month debt-ceiling extension “ridiculous.” After it was announced, other Republicans registered their complaints.
Utah senator Orrin Hatch said, “Let’s just say I’m not supremely happy right now,” while Nebraska senator Ben Sasse gave the deal a catchy name: