The Slatest

Republican-Led Congress Overwhelmingly Approves the Trump-Democratic Debt Deal

President Trump meets with congressional leaders on Wednesday.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The United States Congress summoned the courage this morning to ensure that the basic functions of American government will continue for another three months. After that, who knows?

As with the Senate vote Thursday on the stopgap Harvey relief/debt ceiling/government funding package that passed 80 to 17, the House bill passed, 316 to 90, with zero Democratic votes against it. That’s probably because President Trump accepted Democrats’ first offer in a surprising White House meeting with congressional leaders and his Treasury secretary on Wednesday.

As for the Republicans: The White House sent Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to chat with the House GOP conference ahead of Friday’s vote to get enough of them onboard. Mnuchin was an unusual choice for this job, since he (correctly) believes the debt ceiling is a dangerously stupid law that shouldn’t exist, and might not be the best person to hear out and soothe the concerns of members who take the debt ceiling quite seriously and staunchly oppose increasing it without accompanying reforms or cuts.

It went about as poorly as expected. Mnuchin reportedly told Republicans that they should vote to extend the debt ceiling “for me,” as if anyone cares about him. He also irritated members by refusing to answer what length of debt ceiling increase he would request in December, when they’ll have to vote again. Eventually Mnuchin decided that he had places to be and people to see, and he left the meeting while members were still lining up for questions.

And yet a majority of Republican members who voted—133 out of 223—supported the deal. Likewise, when the Senate approved the deal on Thursday, 33 out of 50 Republican senators supported it.

That’s an encouraging sign for President Trump as he considers making more deals with Democrats down the road. He can simply agree to Democrats’ opening offer, collect all of their votes, and still get about two-thirds of Republican votes, as apparently these people don’t want to oppose their president. He can even send a Wall Street-via-Hollywood smart-ass to insult GOP members ahead of time, just for kicks, and still get their votes. Seems like a model worth replicating in December, or forever.