The nightmare Republicans in Congress feared most turned into reality this week when President Donald Trump strode over to the Democratic side of the aisle and cut a deal to combine disaster aid and extend the debt ceiling temporarily.
“For the Republican leadership to keep thinking Donald Trump is on their team is like Charlie Brown letting Lucy hold the football,” said Matthew Continetti, editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon. “Have people not been watching Donald Trump for two years?”
“The son-of-a-bitch sold us out,” a long-time GOP Congressman told Capitol Hill Blue Thursday.
While Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer praised Trump’s willingness to cut a deal to move disaster aid for damage from Hurricane Harvey forward, others in the opposition party worry that Trump’s unpredictability could bite back.
“I think it’s more likely that he’s going to be calling Chuck Schumer names on Twitter in the next 10 days,” warned Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
Some Republicans blame Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate leader Mitch McConnnell for accepting the deal and not fighting harder for the more conservative “stand firm” position.
Republican Study Commission chairman Mark Walker (R-NC) says the party’s leader accepted a measure that would “simply increase the borrowing authority of the government while irresponsibility ignoring the urgency of reforms.”
Walker, we are told, is among Republicans who are looking at ways to replace Ryan as Speaker, either by turning to a House member who is more hard-line on right-wing positions or bring in someone like former Congressman and Speaker Newt Gingrich or ex-Senator Rick Santorum, both hard-liners.
The Constitution does not require a Speaker to be an elected member of the House and some firebrands want Gingrich, who is blamed for turning the House more hardcore partisan during his term in the leadership post.
Republicans privately admit several influential House GOP members want Ryan out. Spurring the talk is former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is back at his old job of running Breitbart News, who has met with House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC). Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is also involved.
The ultra-right wants total control of Congress and if they can get their “take no prisoners” partisans in charge of key leadership posts, they feel Trump will go along because the hardcore conservatives are a key part of his shrinking political base.
Meadows, Jordan and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) went behind closed doors with Ryan Wednesday and told him to get in line or face a revolt led by their supporters.
Others, like Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), think the Freedom Caucus is overrated.
Trump, he says, “showed the Freedom Caucus that he doesn’t have to cater to them and won’t cater to them when it comes to the debt ceiling and how it all plays out.
“They weren’t elected to run the country and they can’t be going on suicide missions,” King adds. “Yet they continue to do that because a lot of them live in silos these echo chambers where they have their own way.”
Some worry about what the unpredictable Trump might do next.
“Haven’t seen anything like it before,” says Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “I have no way of divining his motives. I’m a pretty intelligent guy, but I don’t understand this.”
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