While rain clouds darken Florida skies and rainwater has yet to recede from communities in Texas, there may be something going on in Washington, D.C. to raise the spirits of all Americans.
The House overwhelmingly approved an $8 billion relief aid bill in response to Hurricane Harvey. The measure passed 419 to three with three Republican “no” votes and President Trump signaled a willingness to step away from the Republican Party’s conservative “supreme council” and make a decision independently from the demands of energy, banking and industrial corporations.
He met with Republican and Democratic leaders at the White House and accepted a budget and debt plan proposed by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California since Republicans were unable to move forward with any kind of legislative action.
Along with the hurricane aid. Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi proposed a three-month lifting of the debt ceiling to keep the government running. House Speaker Ryan attempted to turn the overture into an ideological battle before the meeting and accused Democrats of trying “to play politics with the debt ceiling … [which] … I don’t think is a good idea.”
However, Mr. Trump went his own way on the matter and that averted the threat of a government shutdown and provided immediate aid to the people of Texas.
The fact that the president was willing to be flexible and to compromise is a sign that Mr. Trump has sufficient independence to find a middle ground when dealing with America’s complicated issues.
After announcing the deal to raise the debt ceiling and provide the Hurricane Harvey relief, Mr. Trump said he wanted to work with Democrats on immigration. He said, “We had a very good meeting … ” and when asked about immigration, he said, “Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I.”
Mr. Trump’s independence may be an unpleasant surprise to Republican leaders, but they quickly made the best of the situation. Although it was reported that Ryan was “furious” with President Trump for cozying up to Democrats, he deftly attributed the budget and hurricane relief deal as well as a softening on immigration as being necessitated by the humanitarian concerns raised by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.
Ryan backtracked and said, “I wasn’t furious … I completely understand why he was doing what he was doing.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch 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, and that was the rationale.”
Mr. Schumer complimented the president on his bi-partisanship. He said, “The president listened to the arguments. We think we made a very reasonable and strong argument … to his credit, he went with the better argument.”
Until now, Mr. Trump failed to accomplish his legislative priorities like repealing President Obama’s health care program, so he may now realize that it is time to forge alliances with all reasonable persons in order to deal with the issues of education, infrastructure investment, immigration and tax reform.
Mr. Trump’s detente with Democratic leaders has definitely upset conservative Republicans. So what? Representative Mark Walker (R-North Carolina) said, “I’m still processing this, but my first instinct is I’m not very happy about it.”
Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks, a conservative group, said, “This is straight out of the swamp … and … President Trump [should] say something publicly about how this is a swamp deal and will not be tolerated.”
Mr. Brandon, the only swamp our leaders should be concerned about, at this time, are the bayous around Houston, Texas and the Everglades in Florida.
This agreement neatly sidesteps a potential fiscal showdown without partisan wrangling and provides relief aid to Texans in need.
Mr. Trump may yet display his “art of the deal” prowess and get enough support from Republicans and Democrats to help America deal with all of its issues sensibly. This may be a first step in really helping the American people. Time will tell.