President Trump yesterday struck a deal with Democratic leaders to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government for three months, meaning Congress will need to strike a major bipartisan spending/debt limit deal in December.
Congressional Republicans, eager to avoid multiple contentious votes on an issue that divides their rank-and-file members, had initially proposed raising the debt ceiling for 18 months, and then floated six months before Trump quickly endorsed the three-month deal offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) agreed to pair an extension to the debt limit and a continuing resolution to Dec. 15, with disaster aid for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. After the president agreed to the deal, Schumer and Pelosi issued a joint statement saying, “Both sides have every intention of avoiding default in December and look forward to working together on the many issues before us.”
After the agreement was reached, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made it clear that it was Trump’s deal but that he would move the package.
“The president agreed with Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi to do a three-month [extension] and a debt ceiling into December, and that’s what I will be offering, based on the president’s decision, to the bill,” McConnell said. “The president can speak for himself, but his feeling was that we needed to come together to not create a picture of divisiveness at a time of genuine national crisis.”
The Senate approved the package 80-17 earlier this afternoon. Though House Republicans can now count on Democrats to support the bill, the leaders of the roughly 150-member Republican Study Committee panned the deal and strongly suggested they will not vote for it.
“While some have advocated for a ‘clean’ debt limit increase, this would simply increase the borrowing authority of the government while irresponsibly ignoring the urgency of reforms,” RSC Chairman Mark Walker (R-NC) said in a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today. “Worse yet is attaching the debt limit to legislation that continues the status quo or even worsens the trajectory on spending, such as the deal announced yesterday by the President and congressional leadership.”