Opposition to President Donald Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy and use of executive power is building in Congress, where senators have introduced more legislation aimed at blocking the sale of weapons to the kingdom.
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a Democrat, and Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, a Republican, said in a statement Sunday they hope to force a vote on U.S. security assistance to Saudi Arabia, including arms sales, after a review of the kingdom’s human rights record.
Anger has been mounting in Congress for months over the Trump administration’s close ties to the Saudis, fueled by high civilian casualties in the Saudi-led war in Yemen — a military campaign the U.S. is assisting — and the killing of U.S.-based columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents. Tensions were further inflamed when Trump used an emergency declaration in May to sell the kingdom weapons that Congress had previously placed on hold.
The bill the senators are introducing Monday draws on a provision in the Foreign Assistance Act that allows for congressional review. The act allows Congress to vote to request information about a country’s human rights practices. After receiving the information, Congress can then vote on ending or restricting security assistance.
“Congress needs to change how we do business with the Kingdom. The process we are setting in motion will allow Congress to weigh in on the totality of our security relationship with Saudi Arabia, not just one arms sale, and restore Congress’s role in foreign policy making,” Murphy said in a statement.
This move follows the introduction of 22 bipartisan resolutions on Wednesday that aim to block the $8.1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that bypassed congressional review last month.
“Our arms sales to Saudi Arabia demand Congressional oversight. This bipartisan resolution simply asks the Secretary of State to report on some basic questions before moving forward with them,” said Young, who like Murphy has long been an opponent of U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sales were necessary to counter “the malign influence of the government of Iran throughout the Middle East region.” Citing unspecified intelligence, U.S. officials have said the threat from Iran has increased in recent weeks.
Some of the weapons could be delivered to Saudi Arabia later this year, while other arms will not ship for another year or more. The sale includes precision guided munitions, other bombs and ammunition and aircraft maintenance support.
It is unclear if Murphy and Young’s resolution would pass the Republican-controlled Senate before moving on to the House.
Republicans have vilified Nancy Pelosi for years as a San Francisco liberal and now they’re trying to portray her as a captive of resurgent left-wingers in her Democratic Party.
But in her early moves so far as House speaker, Pelosi is displaying her pragmatic streak. She’s set to endorse a split-the-differences deal on government funding that appears on track to give President Donald Trump at least some barriers on the border, after she had said Trump’s border wall idea was “immoral” and promised he wouldn’t get a penny for it.
And as the Democratic Party’s progressive wing pursues dreams such as “Medicare for all” and a “Green New Deal,” Pelosi is keeping her distance.
“We are results-oriented, values-based, and for the boldest common denominator,” Pelosi said in a brief interview on Friday. “Everybody has a path to make their case, to see what the options are. I’m wedded to the Affordable Care Act because I think it’s a path to health care for all Americans.”
Pelosi presides over a 235-member Democratic caucus that surged into power in last November’s midterm election, fueled by voters’ anger against Trump. The new majority includes young, high-profile and defiantly liberal lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who’s a darling among Democratic activists and a social media phenomenon.
“There’s a new crop of Democrats that make Pelosi look moderate. I never thought I’d see that day,” said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. “You see this Green New Deal rollout, you see this Medicare for all rollout and you don’t see her buying into those proposals.”
While some on the left are demanding Trump’s impeachment, Pelosi is urging Democrats to take it slow, saying there needs to be a full vetting of any evidence. She’s against demanding Trump’s tax returns immediately, to the dismay of impatient lawmakers such as Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.
There’s no denying Pelosi’s skills. She was a strong speaker when running the House in 2007-10, keeping Democrats unified and sometimes running roughshod over Republicans. But some in her caucus started to doubt her after punishing election cycles in 2010, 2014 and 2016.
Pelosi overpowered her doubters, however, in a leadership challenge last fall, emerging stronger than when she started. At age 78 she emerged from her shutdown victory over Trump as a hero in the party and is carrying greater leverage into the ongoing negotiations. So far, there’s little grousing among Democrats.
Pelosi’s more measured approach is playing out this weekend as talks grind on over border security money. Pelosi took a hard line during the recent 35-day partial federal shutdown, refusing to enter into negotiations while the government was shuttered, while dismissing Trump’s dream of a border wall.
“We’re not doing a wall. Does anybody have any doubt about that? We are not doing a wall. So that’s that,” Pelosi said last month. She called the idea “an immorality.”
Those remarks led many Republicans to believe that Pelosi would become an obstacle in the talks, refusing to agree to enough concessions to win over Republicans controlling the Senate, much less Trump.
Instead, Pelosi is intent on pursuing a deal with Republicans on a $350 billion-plus appropriations bill that has been hung up for weeks over Trump’s border wall demands. She still opposes the idea of a wall but has signaled she’s open to vehicle barriers and other steps. She says she’s delegating most of the decision-making to allies on the House Appropriations Committee.
“I trust the appropriators,” Pelosi said, and she frequently reminds people that she was “forged” on that pragmatic committee. Predictions that she’d be hemmed in by her prior stance, or that she’d be unwilling to buck progressives, aren’t coming to fruition.
“Nobody hems in the speaker, OK?” said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa. “The speaker is quite secure in her position and is someone who doesn’t have to worry about what anyone chatters about.”
Part of that is the difference between making a political point and making a law. Must-pass legislation to fund the government, for example, which requires Trump’s approval, gets treated differently than do upcoming messaging measures on climate change, taxes and health care.
Pelosi also relies heavily on her committee chairmen, several of whom have decades of experience in the House dating to the Democratic majority of the early 1990s.
Issues where Democrats want an accomplishment this year, such as lowering prescription drug prices, probably require Democrats and Pelosi to cut deals that won’t please lots of liberals. Pelosi knows the ropes of divided government, often citing her work with the Bush administration in 2007 to pass legislation boosting automobile mileage standards and production of renewable energy.
But Pelosi hints that issue areas where Democrats are developing proposals to run on in the 2020 elections are more wide open.
“Everything’s on the table. Medicare for all is on the table,” Pelosi said. “Everybody knows they have a path. There’s no blocking of anything. Everybody has the path to make their case.”
While high-profile liberals such as Ocasio-Cortez, who won a safe seat in New York City, capture the attention of the party’s left wing, Pelosi is more focused on protecting the first-term members who really matter to holding the Democrats’ majority: lawmakers who took over GOP seats in areas won by Trump.
Republicans say Pelosi is still a stereotypical San Francisco liberal. It’s just that she looks relatively measured when compared with left-wing insurgents.
“She’s trying to hold them back from going over the cliff,” said the House’s top Republican, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy. “The party has moved beyond where she has philosophically been. So she is trying to rein that back.”
He wrote a book on the art of negotiation and was elected to office claiming he alone could end Washington gridlock, but President Donald Trump’s latest attempt to broker a big, bipartisan deal has turned into a big mess.
The failure to find consensus on immigration and spending is a blow to Trump’s presidency on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration — and perhaps more painfully, a blow to his brand as a wheeler-and-dealer. The funding feud, which led to a government shutdown at midnight Friday, is the second time Trump has dived into a negotiation and come up short on a top priority. As with failed talks about overhauling the nation’s health system, Trump has again slammed into the difficulties of Washington’s particular mix of tricky politics and complex policy.
“Negotiating in politics is a lot different than real estate,” said GOP strategist Alex Conant. “In Washington, not everybody wants to make a deal. Trump’s initial premise that politicians just needed to be prodded more to make a deal was always flawed. Nobody runs for Congress because they want to compromise their principles. They want to advance their agendas.”
Democrats’ agenda in this case is, chiefly, protection for the 700,000 young immigrants who may face deportation when the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program expires in March. Republicans are seeking more time to talk and a long-term funding bill that with major increases for the Pentagon.
It’s not been entirely clear what the president’s agenda is. Over the past few weeks, he has expressed openness to extending the DACA program, but then rejected a bipartisan plan on that front. He fired off a tweet that appeared to reject the GOP plan for a short-term funding bill that would buy time for more negotiation, but the White House walked it back. He abruptly tried to cut a broad deal with Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader and a fellow New Yorker, and then backed off.
“I’m looking for something that President Trump supports,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Wednesday, just two days away from the shutdown deadline. “And he’s not yet indicated what measure he’s willing to sign. As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels going to this issue on the floor, but actually dealing with a bill that has a chance to become law and therefore solve the problem.”
Democrats have been less diplomatic: “Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O,” Schumer said Saturday, gleefully recounting what he claimed was a blow-by-blow account of Trump’s failed efforts to avert a shutdown.
The White House doesn’t necessarily view the confusion as a problem.
In his most notable work, “The Art of the Deal,” Trump boasted of his fickleness as a negotiator, describing it as a strategy. “I never get too attached to one deal or one approach. For starters, I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first.”
A White House official, who asked for anonymity to discuss private deliberations, said the White House prefers to keep the government open, but sees potential political upside in Democratic “overreach.” Trump’s team sees the shutdown as an example of the president’s commitment to tough negotiation and believes Democrats will cave in, the official said in describing the strategy.
It is a familiar sentiment for presidents stuck in crises with Congress. During the 2013 shutdown, President Barack Obama predicted the confrontation would “break the fever” driving Republican opposition — ultimately to no avail.
Who bears the blame for the current debacle is difficult to predict. Some Republican critics of Trump said he might emerge reputation intact, should Democrats bear the brunt of the blame. “It’s pretty clear Sen. Schumer wasn’t going to be able to get to ‘yes,’” said Mike Steel, a former aide to Republican House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan.
And many of Trump’s core supporters aren’t particularly interested in compromise. “He was elected for the 46 percent who voted for him,” says William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who worked in the Clinton administration. “He was a mold-breaker, who wouldn’t cow to conventional opinion.”
But Trump, himself, has suggested he should be on the hook for the impasse.
In 2013, when he criticized Obama over another shutdown mess, he said: “Well, if you say who gets fired it always has to be the top. I mean, problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top and the president’s the leader. And he’s got to get everybody in a room and he’s got to lead.”
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.
It is no secret that the bulk of Ivanka Trump’s merchandise comes from China. But just which Chinese companies manufacture and export her handbags, shoes and clothes is more secret than ever, an Associated Press investigation has found.
In the months since she took her White House role, public information about the companies importing Ivanka Trump goods to the U.S. has become harder to find. Information that once routinely appeared in private trade tracking data has vanished, leaving the identities of companies involved in 90 percent of shipments unknown. Even less is known about her manufacturers. Trump’s brand, which is still owned by the first daughter and presidential adviser, declined to disclose the information.
The deepening secrecy means it’s unclear who Ivanka Trump’s company is doing business with in China, even as she and her husband, Jared Kushner, have emerged as important conduits for top Chinese officials in Washington. The lack of disclosure makes it difficult to understand whether foreign governments could use business ties with her brand to try to influence the White House — and whether her company stands to profit from foreign government subsidies that can destroy American jobs. Such questions are especially pronounced in China, where state-owned and state-subsidized companies dominate large swaths of commercial activity.
“There should be more transparency, but right now we do not have the legal mechanism to enforce transparency unless Congress requests information through a subpoena,” said Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, and is part of a lawsuit against President Donald Trump for alleged constitutional violations. “I don’t know how much money she’s making on this and why it’s worth it. I think it’s putting our trade policy in a very awkward situation.”
An AP review of the records that are available about Ivanka Trump’s supply chain found two potential red flags. In one case, a province in eastern China announced the award of export subsidies to a company that shipped thousands of Ivanka Trump handbags between March 2016 and February of this year, Chinese public records show — a possible violation by China of global fair trade rules, trade experts said.
The AP also found that tons of Ivanka Trump clothing were exported from 2013 to 2015 by a company owned by the Chinese government, according to public records and trade data. It is unclear whether the brand is still working with that company, or other state-owned entities. Her brand has pledged to avoid business with state-owned companies now that she’s a White House adviser, but contends that its supply chains are not its direct responsibility.
Ivanka Trump’s brand doesn’t actually make its products directly. Instead, it contracts with licensees who oversee production of her merchandise. In exchange, those licensees pay the brand royalties. The AP asked Ivanka Trump’s brand for a list of its suppliers. The company declined to disclose them. The clothing, footwear and handbag licensees contacted by AP also declined to reveal source factories.
Abigail Klem, president of IT Operations LLC, which manages Ivanka Trump’s brand, said the company does not contract with foreign state-owned companies or benefit from Chinese government subsidies. However, she acknowledged that its licensees might.
“We license the rights to our brand name to licensing companies that have their own supply chains and distribution networks,” Klem said in an email. “The brand receives royalties on sales to wholesalers and would not benefit if a licensee increased its profit margin by obtaining goods at a lower cost,” she added.
But Michael Stone, chairman of Beanstalk, a global brand licensing agency, said lower production costs for licensees would ultimately benefit Ivanka Trump by freeing up money for marketing or lower retail prices, both of which drive sales.
“It gives her a competitive advantage and an indirect benefit to her financially,” Stone said. “The more successful the licensee is the more successful Ivanka Trump is going to be.”
The AP identified companies that sent Ivanka Trump products to the United States by looking at shipment data maintained by ImportGenius and Panjiva Inc., private companies that independently track global trade. Panjiva’s records show that 85 percent of shipments of her goods to the U.S. this year originated in China and Hong Kong, but beyond that, it’s becoming more difficult to map the brand’s global footprint.
The companies that shipped Ivanka Trump merchandise to the U.S. are listed for just five of 57 shipments logged by Panjiva from the end of March, when she officially became a presidential adviser, through mid-September. Panjiva collects data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which did not immediately release the missing data to AP.
While in many cases the manufacturer ships goods directly, merchandise can also be made by one company and shipped by another trading or consolidation company.
There used to be more visibility. Last year, 27 percent of the companies that exported Ivanka Trump merchandise to the U.S. were identified in Panjiva’s records, and back in 2014 a full 95 percent were named. For two of Ivanka Trump’s licensees — G-III Apparel Group Ltd. and Marc Fisher Footwear — the number of shipments appears to plunge in 2015, likely because they “requested to hide” their shipment activity, according to Panjiva records. Neither company responded to AP’s questions.
The brand declined to comment on the growing murkiness of its supply chain.
Chris Rogers, an analyst at Panjiva, said any company can ask customs authorities to redact its information for any reason. About a quarter of companies request anonymity, he said, but the majority don’t mind disclosing who they’re doing business with.
“A lot of companies have said, ‘yes there might be a commercial disadvantage, but we want to be transparent about our supply chain,’” he explained. “‘Why would we want to cover up the fact that we’re working with this particular company?’”
While ethics lawyers may see disclosure as the best antidote to conflict of interest, many brands see it as a tool to keep supply chains scandal-free. Public outcry over sweatshop conditions and worker suicides prompted companies like Nike Inc. and Apple Inc. to disclose the names and addresses of their manufacturers, and a growing number, including Gap Inc., the H&M Group, New Balance Athletics Inc., Adidas AG and Levi Strauss & Co., publicly identify their suppliers.
Ivanka Trump should do the same, said Allen Adamson, founder and CEO of BrandSimple Consulting. “It’s a missed opportunity to lead by example.”
What shipping records do show is that a company called Zhejiang Tongxiang Foreign Trade Group Co. Ltd., a sprawling conglomerate once majority-owned by the Chinese state, sent at least 30 tons of Ivanka Trump handbags to the U.S. between March 2016 and February.
Zhejiang province’s commerce department said in June 2014 that it would help lower export costs for that same company, along with nine other local enterprises, through a special three-year trade promotion program. Among the measures outlined were export insurance subsidies and funding for online trading platforms and international marketing, as well as special funds earmarked for foreign trade companies with large-scale, fast-growing exports.
The value of the subsidies is unclear, as are details about how the directives were implemented, but using subsidies to reduce the price of exports is considered so destructive to fair trade that the World Trade Organization generally bans the practice. Chinese government subsidies hurt American workers but can lower costs for U.S. companies that import made-in-China merchandise, potentially boosting their profits. President Donald Trump has called companies that benefit from foreign government subsidies “cheaters.”
The AP spoke with four trade experts in the United States and China who said the Zhejiang measures appeared to violate World Trade Organization rules. “These are clearly export subsidies,” said Gary Hufbauer, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
Zhejiang province’s Department of Commerce and the Zhejiang Tongxiang Foreign Trade Group declined comment.
The AP also found that from Oct. 2013 to Jan. 2015, Jiangsu High Hope International Group Corp., a conglomerate majority-owned by the Jiangsu provincial government, shipped 45 tons of Ivanka Trump clothing to the U.S., according to records from ImportGenius and Panjiva.
High Hope told AP it had “a small number of business dealings” with Ivanka Trump licensee G-III Apparel, but declined to answer questions about whether the relationship is ongoing.
G-III, which is based in New York City, declined to respond to specific questions but said in a statement that it is “committed to legal compliance and ethical business practices in all of our operations worldwide.” Ivanka Trump licensee Mondani Handbags & Accessories Inc., also headquartered in New York, did not respond to requests for comment.
Ivanka Trump’s brand said it was in the process of reviewing its supply chains with the help of “independent experts whose mission it is to advance human rights” and emphasized that all licensees, manufacturers, subcontractors and suppliers are required to abide by the law, as well as ethical practices set forth in a vendor code of conduct.
The AP asked to see the code of conduct, but the brand declined to share it.
Associated Press researchers Fu Ting in Shanghai and Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.
Follow Kinetz on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ekinetz
Few issues have animated President Donald Trump’s ardent supporters more than his pledge to build a wall along the nation’s Southern border. Now, Trump’s decision to put that promise aside — at least temporarily — while he pursues a deal with Democrats to protect young immigrants brought to the country illegally may test the limits of that loyalty.
Some avid Trump backers praised the president as a pragmatist trying to make deals with whomever he can. But others recoiled at the prospect of Trump joining forces with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on immigration, and seeming to get little in return.
“Many supporters of the president wonder whether our king has been captured and (White House chief of staff John) Kelly and a clique of generals and their globalist friends are now governing,” said Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to Trump. His comments reflected the growing concern among some Trump backers about the diminished presence of nationalist advisers in the West Wing.
Amy Kremer, who founded the group Women Vote Trump, likened the president’s deal-making with Democrats to one of history’s most notorious political flip-flops: President George H.W. Bush’s broken campaign-trail vow that he wouldn’t raise taxes.
“If the wall doesn’t get done and he gives amnesty, he’ll lose the base,” Kremer said. “You’re going to see an absolute revolt.”
The worries were sparked by Trump’s startling efforts to forge consensus with Schumer and Pelosi — “Chuck and Nancy,” as the president has cozily referred to the Democratic duo — over the fate of nearly 800,000 people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump, Schumer and Pelosi discussed the matter at a private White House dinner Wednesday night.
On Thursday morning, the president — a former Democrat himself — and the minority leaders appeared largely aligned. Trump said an agreement to allow the young immigrants to stay in the country would have to include “massive border security.” But he pointedly said a border wall, which is staunchly opposed by Democrats, could come later. He’s outlined no specific path for ultimately making that happen.
While allowing young people who came to the U.S. illegally to stay in the country is broadly popular, immigration hardliners consider it amnesty. As a candidate, Trump vowed to repeal the executive action signed by President Barack Obama allowing the young people to stay. But he’s struggled with the issue as president, often speaking sympathetically about the young immigrants. Earlier this month, he announced that he would rescind their protections in March, but said he wanted Congress to pass legislation protecting them from deportation.
Trump has tested the limits of his supporters’ loyalty before, often to find that they were unshaken by his policy reversals. He failed to fulfill his pledge to repeal Obama’s signature health care law. He’s backed off his tough talk on China, declining to label Beijing a currency manipulator. The United States is still a party to the Iran nuclear deal, despite Trump’s promise to rip up the agreement.
But immigration, and the border wall in particular, hold special resonance with Trump supporters. Some of Trump’s appeal to the white, working-class voters who formed the basis of his voting bloc stemmed from his promises to crack down on illegal immigration. At his raucous campaign rallies, voters often broke out into chants of “build that wall.”
Once in the White House, Trump’s nationalist-minded advisers, particularly strategist Steve Bannon, often pressed the president on the particular importance of fulfilling his promise on the border wall. But Bannon, who kept a tally of Trump’s campaign promises in his West Wing office, was pushed out this summer as part of Kelly’s takeover of the White House.
The headlines Thursday on Breitbart News, where Bannon returned after leaving the administration, were unforgiving. One panned the president as “Amnesty Don.” Another said Trump got “rolled” by the Democrats.
With his poll numbers sagging, Trump has spent recent weeks alternating between being deeply worried about disappointing his base and deeply frustrated with Republican lawmakers’ struggles to pass significant legislation. The GOP’s failure to pass an Obamacare overhaul in particular soured Trump’s view of Republican congressional leaders, according to advisers, and opened him up to the prospect of partnering with Democrats instead.
Some of Trump’s supporters praised the president for what they see as pragmatism.
“He’s to the point he needs to get something done. The Republican Party has failed him miserably,” said Jeff Jorgensen, the GOP chairman in western Iowa’s conservative Pottawattamie County. “Hats off to him. If you need to cross the aisle to get things done, then cross the aisle.”
There’s no guarantee that the common ground Trump found this week with Democrats on immigration will result in legislation. Republicans still control which legislation comes up for votes, and neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor House Speaker Paul Ryan appeared eager to sign on. The scope of the border security measures that would be included in an eventual bill could also undercut Democratic support.
Trump, trying to tamp down criticism that he was acquiescing to his political opponents, insisted he would eventually make good on his promises to his base.
“Ultimately, we have to have the wall,” he said. “If we don’t get the wall we’re not doing anything.”
Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Steve Peoples at http://twitter.com/sppeoples
President Donald Trump ignored seething Republicans and made good on his deal with Democrats, signing legislation that links $15.3 billion in disaster aid to an increase in the U.S. borrowing limit.
The law is a first installment in replenishing depleted federal emergency coffers. Trump signed it Friday as Hurricane Irma approached Florida and as Texas picks up the pieces after the devastation of Harvey. All 90 votes in opposition were cast by Republicans, some of whom hissed and booed administration officials who went to Capitol Hill to defend the package.
Conservative Republicans were upset that Trump cut the disaster-and-debt deal with Democratic leaders with no offsetting budget cuts.
“You can’t just keep borrowing money,” said GOP Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina. “We’re going to be $22 trillion in debt.”
The aid measure, which passed the House on a vote of 316-90, was the first injection of emergency money that could rival or exceed the $110 billion federal response after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, though future aid packages may be more difficult to pass. The legislation also finances the government through Dec. 8.
In a closed-door meeting before the vote, more than a dozen Republicans stood up and complained about Trump cutting a deal with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi instead of GOP leaders trying to deliver on the president’s agenda.
Budget chief Mick Mulvaney, a former tea party congressman from South Carolina who took a hard line against debt increases during his House tenure, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin faced a rough time in pleading for votes.
Mnuchin elicited hisses when he told the meeting of House Republicans “vote for the debt ceiling for me,” said Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C.
Republicans were in disbelief after Mnuchin argued that the debt ceiling shouldn’t be a political issue in the future, said Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.
Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., described a surreal scene with Mnuchin, a former Democratic donor, and Mulvaney, who almost certainly would have opposed the very measure he was sent to pitch, pressing Republicans to rally around the legislation.
“It’s kind of like ’Where am I? What’s going on here?’” Costello said. “If it wasn’t so serious it kind of would have been funny.”
Mulvaney was booed when he stepped to the microphone, though lawmakers said it was good-natured. He defended the deal and Trump.
“It was absolutely the right thing to do,” Mulvaney told reporters after the meeting. “The president is a results-driven person, and right now he wants to see results on Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and tax reform. He saw an opportunity to work with Democrats on this particular issue at this particular time.”
But Mulvaney further upset Republicans when he wouldn’t promise spending cuts as part of a future debt limit vote.
Trump on Wednesday had cut a deal with Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi to increase the debt limit for three months, rather than the long-term approach preferred by the GOP leaders that would have resolved the issue through next year’s midterms.
Conservatives disliked both options. Voting on the debt limit is politically toxic for Republicans, and the deal will make the GOP vote twice before next year’s midterm elections.
Fiscal conservatives have clamored for deep cuts in spending in exchange for any increase in the government’s borrowing authority. The storm relief measure had widespread support, but the linkage with the debt ceiling left many Republicans frustrated.
“Are we doing anything on fiscal sanity? No,” said tea party Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. “And so Mick (Mulvaney) came over today, the treasury secretary came over today, and we said, ‘Do you have a plan for fiscal sanity going forward?’ No. Crickets. So that’s the frustration.”
Democratic votes are invariably needed to increase the debt limit — and avert a potential market-quaking default on government obligations — and Schumer and Pelosi successfully pressed to waive the debt limit through Dec. 8. Democrats are cautious about working with Trump, but hold out hope for legislation on the budget, health care, and shielding young immigrants brought to this country illegally from deportation.
Moderate GOP Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he’s been encouraging Trump to find ways to work with Democrats. King attended a meeting in the White House on Thursday with lawmakers when the president asked him “how did I feel the bipartisan deal was going. Did I think it was good?” I said, “‘Absolutely, we need more of it.’ I said, ‘You and Chuck. The two of you in the room. We can make some good deals.’”
Associated Press writers Richard Lardner and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.
President Barack Obama said Friday he won’t sign another temporary government funding bill after the current one expires Dec. 11, insisting that congressional Republicans and Democrats work out a long-term budget deal with the White House.
Obama said such a deal should lift a freeze on the budgets of both the Pentagon and domestic agencies. Speaking at a White House news conference, he said he “won’t sign another shortsighted spending bill” and asserted that the U.S. can’t cut its way to prosperity.
“Congress has to do its job. It can’t flirt with another shutdown,” Obama said.
On the so-called debt limit, which needs to be raised above the current $18.1 trillion cap by early November, Obama said he won’t repeat a 2011 negotiation over companion spending cuts that brought the nation to the brink of a first-ever default on its obligations.
“We’re not going back there,” he said, adding: “Historically, we do not mess with it. If it gets messed with, it would have profound implications for the global economy and could put our financial system in the kind of tailspin that we saw back in 2007 and 2008. … It has to get done in the next five weeks.”
Neither position was new or surprising, but the president’s statements came after Capitol Hill was roiled by the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. He decided to leave Congress after a revolt among tea party forces who wanted him to use a temporary spending bill to force Obama to take away Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. The same conservatives generally opposed lifting tight caps on spending set by the 2011 budget deal.
Talks on spending were just beginning and were expected to focus on finding long-term cuts elsewhere in the budget to permit higher spending on the day-to-day operations of government agencies. Agreement will be difficult, in large part because of a lack of politically easy spending cuts and disagreement over how to use any money from the cuts.
Four years ago Obama agreed to spending cuts in exchange for getting a $2.1 trillion debt limit increase through Congress. Since then he has twice refused to negotiate over the debt-ceiling issue and Congress has lifted the debt limit both times with sweeping support from Democrats.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew informed Congress on Thursday that it needs to act by Nov. 5, earlier than most on Capitol Hill had thought. The issue probably will need to be dealt with before Boehner leaves at the end of the October.
Obama said that Boehner’s resignation, which has sparked GOP infighting in a handful of House leadership races, complicated the situation. But Boehner said he would like to clean out Congress’ barn of as much unfinished business as possible and he may have more leeway now that he didn’t have to worry about tea party lawmakers demanding his scalp.