In dance on debt ceiling, 2 tango
President, Schumer to pursue permanent plan to raise the cap
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck 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.
Trump and Schumer discussed the idea Wednesday during an Oval Office meeting. Schumer, Trump and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D.- Calif., agreed to work together over the next several months to see if they can finalize a plan, which would need to be approved by Congress.
One of the people familiar described it as a “gentlemen’s agreement.”
Senate Democrats hope they can finalize an arrangement with Trump by December.
“The President encouraged congressional leaders to find a more permanent solution to the debt ceiling so the vote is not so frequently politicized,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
The three people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the contents of the meeting.
The deal comes after Trump sided with Democratic leaders Wednesday on a plan to temporarily raise the debt ceiling and fund hurricane relief, rejecting a Republican plan and vexing many in his party.
Trump pressed ahead on making deals with Democrats on Thursday, acting on a request from Pelosi to reassure the young immigrants who benefit from a program that his administration is ending. The president tweeted, “For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about - No action!”
He was referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Barack Obama created through administrative action in 2012. Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the program but gave Congress six months to act on it.
Notwithstanding his tweet, the nearly 800,000 Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talk Thursday with so-called Dreamers. immigrants who obtained temporary work permits and deportation protections via DACA cannot necessarily rest easy. Any of them whose protections expire within the next six months have until early October to reapply, and others face an uncertain future.
Trump also talked up his suddenly cozier relationship with Democrats, raising the prospect of more cooperation.
“I think that’s a great thing for our country,” Trump said, describing his new and “different relationship” with Democrats. “I think that’s what the people of the United States want to see: They want to see some dialogue, they want to see coming together to an extent at least,” he told reporters.
Shortly after Trump’s tweet appeared Thursday morning, Pelosi told fellow Democrats at a closed-door meeting that she had spoken with the president and asked him to send it, in order to make clear to the so-called Dreamers that they wouldn’t be subject to deportation during the sixmonth window.
At her news conference, Pelosi told reporters, “I was reporting to my colleagues, I said, ‘This is what I asked the president to do and boom, boom, the tweet appeared.’ ”
Trump also spoke by phone Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Schumer.
Schumer was to meet with him again, this time about possible federal involvement in a rail link between New York and New Jersey.
Ryan said Thursday that he opposes scrapping the debt-limit process.
“I won’t get into a private conversation that we had (at the White House), but I think there’s a legitimate role for the power of the purse of the Article 1 powers, and that’s something we defend here in Congress.”
Article 1 of the Constitution sets up Congress’s powers, giving it the authority to write and pass legislation and appropriate government money.
The U.S. government spends more money than it brings in through taxes and fees, and it covers that gap by issuing debt to borrow money. The government can borrow money only up to a certain limit, known as the debt limit or the debt ceiling. The government routinely bumps up against this ceiling, requiring Congress to raise it. These votes are often politicized and can cause panic among investors.
If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, investors have warned the stock market could crash because the government could fall behind on its obligations if it isn’t allowed to borrow more money.
Trump told associates he was delighted with the news coverage of his foray into bipartisanship and boasted of the good press in calls to Pelosi and Schumer. But some Republicans were not pleased. “Yesterday we saw Washington’s swamp continue to rise: Chuck Schumer wrote the art of the steal by taking hurricane relief hostage to guarantee a December showdown that favors Democratic spending priorities,” said Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
Republican Rep. Bill Flores of Texas suggested Trump would come to regret working with the Democratic leaders. “There may be a feeling of euphoria today, but then there is always the hangover that comes the next day,” he said.