Conservatives direct ire at GOP leaders — not Trump

Conservatives direct ire at GOP leaders — not Trump

Conservatives are blasting the fiscal deal brokered by President Trump and Democratic leaders, but are blaming GOP leaders in Congress more than the White House.

Trump shocked most of Washington by agreeing to the deal with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerProtecting our judiciary must be a priority in the 116th Congress Baldwin's Trump plays 'Deal or No Deal' with shutdown on 'Saturday Night Live' Sunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiElise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 Our legislators must commit to making children a priority Dreamer: Dems 'should absolutely not' take Trump's immigration deal MORE (D-Calif.); it was similar to a proposal Democrats had offered earlier on Wednesday that Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump once asked Paul Ryan why he couldn’t be ‘loyal': book AEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism MORE (R-Wis.) called “ridiculous.”

The agreement would fund the government and raise the debt ceiling through Dec. 8, tying that legislation to aid for communities hit by Hurricane Harvey.

Congress is expected to approve the package on Thursday, though there could be many GOP defections.

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“While some have advocated for a ‘clean’ debt limit increase, this would simply increase the borrowing authority of the government while irresponsibly ignoring the urgency of reforms,” Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, wrote in a letter to Ryan.

Walker’s missive didn’t mention Trump.

In a phone call following the deal’s announcement, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said the deal was “a fool’s play, a trap, and Republicans should reject it out of hand.”

Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli went a step further.

“[Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Senate GOP eyes 'nuclear option' for Trump nominees next week Taiwan’s President Tsai should be invited to address Congress MORE must be replaced, the Senate leadership must be replaced, and the same goes for the House,” he said following announcement of the Trump deal, a statement that was further endorsed by ForAmerica President David Bozell.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOvernight Health Care: Trump vows to veto bills expanding abortion rights | Abortion foes march into divided Washington | Medicaid work requirements approved in Arizona Abortion foes march into divided Washington McCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader MORE (R-N.C.) also directed blame at Congress, not Trump.

“Let’s be clear, there are separate branches,” he said.

“Even though the president made a deal yesterday, we agreed to it,” he added, referring to his party’s leadership in Congress.

Ryan and McConnell (R-Ky.) have made it crystal clear that they did not agree with the deal, though they are going along with it.

The Speaker, after breathing a sigh, said Thursday that Trump wanted to avoid “a food fight” and ensure that aid was delivered quickly to communities affected by Harvey.

McConnell, asked Wednesday if he was surprised that the president “sided with Democrats,” downplayed any signs of Republican division.

“[The president’s] feeling was that we needed to come together, to not create a picture of divisiveness at a time of genuine national crisis,” he said.

It’s possible Republican lawmakers are aiming their ire away from Trump because they don’t want to become the president’s targets on Twitter.

Yet conservative anger with their congressional leadership is nothing new.

The right has blamed McConnell for the Senate’s failure to repeal ObamaCare and were angered that leadership had wanted to pass a longer-term debt lift with the disaster relief bill, an option Ryan and McConnell hoped would take the thorny, must-pass item off their agenda until after the 2018 midterm elections.

With Republicans controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, Ryan and McConnell are clear targets for anti-establishment voters who still hope to “drain the swamp” of the political establishment in Washington.

Not every conservative was so sanguine about Trump’s cross-aisle deal-cutting.

“When Beohner [sic] cut a deal with Obama on the debt ceiling, conservatives tossed him. Trump cut one with Pelosi and it’s Paul Ryan’s fault? WTF?,” tweeted conservative commentator Erick Erikson, referring to former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBreaking the impasse on shutdown, border security McCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King MORE (R-Ohio).

Rep. Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordMark Sanford warns US could see ‘Hitler-like character’ in the future House passes year-end tax package Pelosi sees fierce resistance from White House if Dems seek Trump’s tax returns MORE (R-S.C.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, insinuated that Trump does not have a consistent worldview, conservative or otherwise.

“I’d say that it’s a reminder of how important governing philosophy is,” Sanford said of the deal.

But it’s unclear how much leeway Trump will have with conservatives if he continues defying their wishes. 

Heritage Action, a conservative political group, came out in strong opposition to the plan, urging members of Congress to vote against what they dubbed “The Pelosi-Schumer-Trump Debt Ceiling Deal.”

But even their release pulled its punches, laying the blame with “the Trump administration” and not the president himself.