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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 GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states Late donor surges push election spending projections to new heights MORE (S.C.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWho is 'Anonymous' author Miles Taylor? Why Biden could actually win Texas Trump fights for battleground Arizona MORE (Ariz.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump says ex-staffer who penned 'Anonymous' op-ed should be 'prosecuted' CIA impeachment whistleblower forced to live under surveillance due to threats: report Rand Paul rips 'leftwing media' for focusing on COVID-19 cases: 'Mortality rates are plummeting' MORE (Ky.). No Democrats voted against the measure. 

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GOP Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHarris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden Cruz wants donors to repay K he loaned to his 2018 campaign Why Biden could actually win Texas 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 SchumerChuck SchumerHouse Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Graham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' 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. 

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' On The Money: Trump makes a late pitch on the economy | US economy records record GDP gains after historic COVID-19 drop | Pelosi eyes big COVID-19 deal in lame duck Lawmakers say infrastructure efforts are falling victim to deepening partisan divide MORE (R-Ky.), Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Wis.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' On The Money: Trump makes a late pitch on the economy | US economy records record GDP gains after historic COVID-19 drop | Pelosi eyes big COVID-19 deal in lame duck Pelosi challenger calls delay on COVID-19 relief bill the 'privilege of politics' 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 sees path to hold Senate majority Cook moves Texas to 'toss-up' Biden pushes into Trump territory 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.”

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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 ThuneBiden to campaign in Minnesota as GOP ups pressure in 'sleeper' state GOP sees path to hold Senate majority Ensuring more Americans have access to 5G technology 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 SasseTrump looks to shore up support in Nebraska GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg President Trump: To know him is to 'No' him 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. 

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Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerHouse Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Graham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' 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 CorkerCornyn: Relationships with Trump like 'women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse' Trump excoriates Sasse over leaked audio Has Congress captured Russia policy? MORE (Tenn.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP sees path to hold Senate majority Democrat trails by 3 points in Montana Senate race: poll Poll shows statistical tie in Montana Senate race MORE (Mont.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziBottom line Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Cynthia Lummis wins GOP Senate primary in Wyoming MORE (Wyo.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstErnst holds narrow lead over Democratic challenger in Iowa: poll Biden, Cunningham hold narrow leads in North Carolina: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy MORE (Iowa), Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerTech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska GOP senators pan debate: 'S---show,' 'awful,' 'embarrassment' MORE (Neb.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump fights for battleground Arizona Flake cuts ad for Biden: 'Character' matters What a Biden administration should look like MORE (Ariz.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBarrett confirmation stokes Democrats' fears over ObamaCare On The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Grassley: Voters should be skeptical of Biden's pledge to not raise middle class taxes MORE (Iowa), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Defense: Trump campaign's use of military helicopter raises ethics concerns | Air Force jets intercept aircraft over Trump rally | Senators introduce bill to expand visa screenings Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand screening of foreign visitors Democrat announces 2022 bid for Ron Johnson's seat MORE (Wis.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordMcConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate Senators push for Turkey sanctions after reports Ankara used Russian system to detect US-made jets McConnell: Plan is to confirm Trump's Supreme Court pick before election MORE (Oka.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump says ex-staffer who penned 'Anonymous' op-ed should be 'prosecuted' White House to host swearing-in event for Barrett on Monday night Pence adviser Marty Obst tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (Utah), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranLobbying world This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg acknowledges failure to take down Kenosha military group despite warnings | Election officials push back against concerns over mail-in voting, drop boxes MORE (Kan.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischWhy the US should rely more on strategy, not sanctions Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators blast Turkey's move to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque MORE (Idaho), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyAppeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy 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 RubioWisconsin GOP says hackers stole .3M Hillicon Valley: Big Tech hearing the most partisan yet | Rubio warns about foreign election interference | Trump campaign site briefly hacked Rubio warns that election interference may ramp up around Election Day MORE (Fla.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Smart or senseless for Biden to spend time in Georgia, Iowa? Alaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch Biden's oil stance jars Democrats in tough races MORE (Alaska).

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