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 GrahamTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' Graham knocks South Korea over summit with North MORE (S.C.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us MORE (Ariz.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate approves 4B spending bill Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says Dems inflated Puerto Rico death toll | House cancels Friday votes | Florence starts to hit coast MORE (Ky.). No Democrats voted against the measure. 

GOP Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP candidate scores upset win in Texas state Senate runoff McConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal Cornyn takes on O'Rourke over AR-15s 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 SchumerHouse Dems push to delay Kavanaugh vote for investigation Democrats should end their hypocrisy when it comes to Kavanaugh and the judiciary Celebrities back both Cuomo and Nixon as New Yorkers head to primary vote 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 McConnellSanders hits Feinstein over Kavanaugh allegations: Now it’s clear why she did nothing for months On The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' McConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal MORE (R-Ky.), Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanCorey Stewart fires aide who helped bring far-right ideas to campaign: report GOP super PAC hits Randy Bryce with ad starring his brother Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms MORE (R-Wis.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump announces tariffs on 0B in Chinese goods Trump: China tariff announcement to come Monday afternoon Trump could hit China with tariffs of 0 billion as soon as Monday 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 CornynGOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford Blumenthal: Kavanaugh nomination should be withdrawn Cornyn takes on O'Rourke over AR-15s 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 ThuneMore Dems want focus on job creation than wage growth Google, Apple, Amazon execs to testify at Senate privacy hearing this month Trump gets good news on wages 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 SasseMcConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal Senate approves 4B spending bill Grassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt 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. 

Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHouse Dems push to delay Kavanaugh vote for investigation Democrats should end their hypocrisy when it comes to Kavanaugh and the judiciary Celebrities back both Cuomo and Nixon as New Yorkers head to primary vote 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 CorkerGrassley: No reason to delay Kavanaugh hearing The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world Murkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify MORE (Tenn.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesCongress passes bill to require Senate campaign filings to be made electronically Congress just failed our nation’s veterans when it comes to medical marijuana Sanders: Public should be ‘very concerned’ about election security in 2018 MORE (Mont.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziCruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke Budget chairs press appropriators on veterans spending Forcing faith-based agencies out of the system is a disservice to women MORE (Wyo.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP senator divorcing from husband GOP senators introduce bill to preserve ObamaCare's pre-existing conditions protections Pence: Trump’s national security will be as 'dominant' in space as it is on Earth MORE (Iowa), Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerEPA signs off on rule exempting farmers from reporting emissions GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE The real reason Scott Pruitt is gone: Putting a key voting bloc at risk MORE (Neb.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley: No reason to delay Kavanaugh hearing Dem senators back Kavanaugh accuser's call for FBI investigation Kavanaugh accuser says FBI should investigate before she testifies MORE (Ariz.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight Grassley: No reason to delay Kavanaugh hearing Dem senators back Kavanaugh accuser's call for FBI investigation MORE (Iowa), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills MORE (Wis.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordOutdated global postal system hurts US manufacturers Tech mobilizes to boost election security State Department unit created to fight foreign election interference still waiting on funding: report MORE (Oka.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate approves 4B spending bill Overnight Health Care: Opioid legislation passes overwhelmingly | DOJ backs Cigna-Express Scripts merger | Senate passes ban on pharmacy gag clauses US military intervention in Venezuela would be a major mistake MORE (Utah), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranMcConnell: Sessions should stay as attorney general Tougher Russia sanctions face skepticism from Senate Republicans Farm groups fear Trump aid won’t fix trade damage MORE (Kan.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischMcCain’s death marks decline of Trump’s GOP Senate critics Overnight Health Care: Senate approves massive bill including health spending | Bill includes drug pricing measure | Move to block Planned Parenthood funding fails Overnight Defense: Senate passes massive defense, domestic spending bill | Duncan Hunter to step down from committees | Pompeo names North Korea envoy MORE (Idaho), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race 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 RubioRubio unloads on Turkish chef for 'feasting' Venezuela's Maduro: 'I got pissed' For Poland, a time for justice Judiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh MORE (Fla.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanCruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke Spotlight shifts to Kavanaugh ahead of hearings GOP senator: Trump firing Sessions wouldn't be 'politically wise' MORE (Alaska).

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