Senate approves Trump's debt deal with Democrats

The Senate on Thursday approved a short-term bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling despite frustration among Republicans about the deal that President Trump struck with Democrats.

Senators voted 80-17 on the agreement, which includes an extension of government funding and an increase in the federal borrowing limit through Dec. 8. Those measures are paired with more than $15 billion in hurricane and disaster recovery aid.

Seventeen Republican senators voted against the deal, including Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDurbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement MORE (S.C.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (Ariz.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework MORE (Ky.). No Democrats voted against the measure. 

GOP Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE (Texas), whose state was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, supported the measure but stressed, “I would have much preferred a clean Harvey relief bill.” 

The deal has stoked widespread opposition in the GOP, particularly among conservatives. Though Republicans support helping communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey, many are loath to raise the debt ceiling or fund the government without spending or entitlement reforms.

The package will now bounce back to the House to be passed for a second time before heading to Trump for his signature. House lawmakers easily cleared a stand-alone Harvey recovery bill, on Wednesday, but that margin is expected to shrink now that the Senate has attached the debt-ceiling increase and the government funding measure.

The Republican Study Committee, the largest GOP caucus in the House with more than 150 members, came out against the deal on Thursday, calling it irresponsible. The caucus’s opposition means the deal might pass the House mainly with Democratic votes — an unusual dynamic with a Republican in the White House.

Trump appeared to shock GOP leadership during a closed-door White House meeting Wednesday when he sided with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — who he later referred to as “Chuck and Nancy” — on a three-month deal. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.), Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDeficit hawks voice worry over direction of tax plan GOP eyes limits on investor tax break Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE were in the meeting and had pushed for longer debt-limit increase, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

But Trump — who also floated doing away with all debt-ceiling votes — agreed to go with the Democratic push to do a three-month extension. The political U-turn came after Democrats offered a similar deal in the morning that didn’t include government funding, which Ryan had dismissed as “ridiculous.”

While few Republican senators were happy with the deal, they said Trump was within his rights to make it.

“I think Sen. McConnell said it’s the president’s prerogative to cut a deal if he wants to. And he apparently thought that was advantageous,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGun proposal picks up GOP support House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

But Cornyn added he would have preferred to have a longer extension noting that “lifting the debt ceiling is always unpleasant and usually we like to have some offsets or reforms.”

The surprise agreement left GOP leadership with a tough sale to rank-and-file members and an unenviable December schedule, when they’ll need to wrangle together another agreement to avoid a shutdown and raise the debt ceiling for the second time in three months.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGun proposal picks up GOP support Overnight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-S.D.) said to reporters, “I guess we’ll address all the issues again in December. It will be a good holiday for you guys, sticking around.”

Trump administration officials touted the agreement as a move to help clear the decks and make room for tax reform, another key GOP agenda item that has been on hold.

GOP leaders had pointed to government funding, the debt ceiling and help for Harvey victims as their top three priorities for September. The deal cleared by Senate also includes a short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire at the end of September.

"We're very happy we have a deal," Mnuchin told Fox Business on Thursday. “The president's priority was to make sure we have the funding for [Hurricane] Harvey and to make sure we raise the debt limit to pay for that.”

Republicans were under intense pressure from outside groups to oppose the funding package.

“The Trump administration and congressional Republicans agreed to link that much-need emergency spending to a suspension of our nation’s debt ceiling, and the administration ultimately agreed with congressional Democrats that the debt ceiling suspension should last less than three months,” Heritage Action said Thursday.

The vote put Senate Republicans in between two politically bad decisions: Defy Trump and party leadership to oppose a deal with hurricane aide, or feel the wrath of conservatives who are already frustrated as Republicans have struggled to make good on campaign promises like repealing ObamaCare.

Conservatives, or Democrats, could have dragged out the Senate’s debate on the agreement until at least Friday. But leadership appeared to avert a rare Friday or Saturday session by allowing Paul and Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseBill Maher takes a knee for the NFL GOP senator unleashes tweet storm against prominent white nationalist Republican says GOP messaging on health care has been poor MORE (R-Neb.) to get votes on their proposals to either pay for or scale back the bill.

Senators voted to set aside Paul’s push to pay for the $15.25 billion in hurricane recovery funding through cuts to unspent foreign aid money. They similarly rejected Sasse’s amendment to remove the debt and funding deal and pair the hurricane money back to the original House-passed level. 

Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE wrote the art of the steal by taking hurricane relief hostage to guarantee a December showdown that favors Democratic spending priorities,” Sasse said ahead of the vote. “Republicans should reject Schumer’s deal and instead pass the same clean aid package for Harvey victims that the House passed yesterday.”

The other Republicans who voted against the bill were Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerDeficit hawks voice worry over direction of tax plan The Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (Tenn.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesDems face pressure from left on gun control Overnight Health Care: Senate won't vote on ObamaCare repeal bill | GOP chairman ready to resume bipartisan talks | Republicans nix idea of pairing repeal with tax reform Senate won't vote on ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (Mont.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThis week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform How the effort to replace ObamaCare failed Senate GOP budget paves way for .5T in tax cuts MORE (Wyo.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstAgricultural trade demands investment in MAP and FMD GOP senator: Trump's rhetoric not to blame for North Korea nuclear threat Rep. Sinema to challenge Flake for Senate seat MORE (Iowa), Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong The Hill's 12:30 Report Breitbart charts path for 2018 midterm races MORE (Neb.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAuthorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient Republicans jockey for position on immigration McCain, Flake warn against 'politically-motivated penalties' for Canadian defense firm MORE (Ariz.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRepublicans jockey for position on immigration House clears bill to combat crimes against elderly Grassley: DACA deal wouldn't need border wall funding MORE (Iowa), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker to unveil bill banning gun bump stocks Senate Homeland Security chairman backs bump-stock ban after Las Vegas shootings MORE (Wis.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordRepublicans jockey for position on immigration Tillis-Lankford amnesty proposal is a betrayal of the American people This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform MORE (Oka.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong How the effort to replace ObamaCare failed Overnight Regulation: Trump temporarily lifts Jones Act for Puerto Rico | Bill would exempt some banks from Dodd-Frank | Senators unveil driverless car bill MORE (Utah), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranTIMELINE: The GOP's failed effort to repeal ObamaCare The Hill's Whip List: Republicans try again on ObamaCare repeal IT modernization measure included in Senate-approved defense policy bill MORE (Kan.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischRubio won't challenge colleague for Foreign Relations gavel Senate approves Trump's debt deal with Democrats Overnight Cybersecurity: Mueller impanels grand jury in Russia probe | Researcher who helped stop WannaCry attack detained | Audit finds OPM systems still at risk MORE (Idaho), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNewly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying Overnight Tech: FCC won't fine Colbert over Trump joke | Trump budget slashes science funding | Net neutrality comment period opens Appeals court decision keeps lawsuit against NSA surveillance alive MORE (Pa.) and Sasse.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) who is on trial for bribery and corruption charges, missed the vote, as did GOP Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (Fla.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanLobbying World US draws closer to South Korea with new deployment Pentagon urges Congress to move 6M for missile defense MORE (Alaska).

- This story was updated at 3:15 p.m.