9/12/2017 11:31:00 AM EDITORIAL: Trump tries bipartisanship
One of the main selling points raised during Donald Trump’s unlikely path to the presidency was his reputation as a deal-maker. We’re several months into his term, and there’s not much evidence to back this claim. What he has done is pander to his base, campaign for the next election in 2020 and pointed the finger of blame for legislative inaction on his agenda in every direction but his own.
But, this week, Trump seemed to be ready to make good on his promise of consensus building.
“Trump bucked his own party's leaders and sided with Democrats on a deal to bundle Hurricane Harvey relief funds, a three-month debt-limit increase, and a three-month continuing resolution to keep the government funded,” reported Business Insider’s Bob Bryan on Wednesday. “Trump agreed to the deal, which Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi supported. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan were opposed. … According to a source briefed on the meeting, the leaders were deadlocked over how long to raise the debt ceiling. Schumer and Pelosi wanted the shorter three-month extension, while McConnell, Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wanted a longer one. As the leaders appeared ready to agree to disagree, the source said, Trump interjected and said the group should go with a three-month debt-limit extension and a three-month continuing resolution.”
And, apparently, that’s not all Trump and these Democratic leaders agreed to Wednesday.
“Trump and Schumer have agreed to pursue a deal that would permanently remove the requirement that Congress repeatedly raise the debt ceiling, three people familiar with the decision said,” reported The Washington Post’s Damian Paletta and Ashley Parker on Thursday. “Trump and Schumer discussed the idea Wednesday during an Oval Office meeting. The two, along with Pelosi, agreed to work together over the next several months to try to finalize a plan, which would need to be approved by Congress. One of the people familiar described it as a ‘gentlemen’s agreement.’”
There could be multiple factors at play here. Trump may have just been trying to punish Ryan and McConnell for their perceived slights and failures, but he got so much good press coverage from reaching across the aisle, he may have accidentally discovered a strategy for reducing gridlock in Washington. There likely are many Trump voters who don't approve of his conduct, but voted for him anyway because he was the Washington outsider. Excluding those Americans at the political extremes, many people have sought for years to see bipartisanship in Congress. The president working with Democrats might force Congress to work better together.
This could very well be temporary, but it's certainly the first time we’ve seen the president take the lead like this.