When President Donald Trump refuses to engage constructively with lawmakers, Democrats and some lobbyists said on Monday, the U.S. Congress, bitterly divided for years along party lines, may be mapping a bipartisan path forward.
The path was discernible in a nearly $1.2 trillion federal spending deal carved out over the weekend to prevent a government shutdown. It had Democratic fingerprints all over it, even though Republicans control Congress and the White House.
Mick Mulvaney, White House budget director said that President Trump will sign the 2017 budget bill when he receives it from Congress on Thursday or Friday. Trump, in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday, said he was “very happy” with the deal announced late on Sunday. Mick Mulvaney said, “Everything we got in this deal … lines up perfectly with the president’s priorities.”
Democrats took an opposite view.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters: “Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were closer to one another than we were to the president on so many of the different issues.”
Schumer and Senator Patrick Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said they were bolstered in negotiations by the fact that several Republican senators opposed funding for Trump’s wall and his call for deep domestic spending cuts.
Schumer and Leahy said the White House never tried to work with Democrats in the process.
Doug Heye, a Republican strategist who worked in Congress as an aide to former House Republican leader Eric Canto said that, “Trump treats engaging with lawmakers on legislation as “an afterthought. The power of the Oval Office can provide a lot of leverage when trying to move something on Capitol Hill. We just haven’t see that level of engagement from Trump, whether it’s healthcare, or building a wall, or tax reform.”
But John Feehery, a Republican strategist in Washington, said that this spending bill does not directly indicate Trump’s ability to negotiate with the congress because the legislative office should have settled this already before. He said that Trump knows that this bill will not probably reflect his priorities for it is old business.
The spending deal preserved funding for healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, which has drawn Republican ire because it performs abortions; for the Obamacare healthcare law; and for an array of environmental and other domestic programs Trump wanted to slash.
Spicer, White House spokesperson said that “president’s priorities will be reflected much more” in spending yet to be worked out for the 2018 fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. He said Trump was pleased to see the increase in military spending, a “deposit” on border security and money for scholarships to help low-income children in Washington attend private schools.
The 2017 funds which was already settles months ago will be focus paying for federal programs from airport and border security operations to soldiers’ pay, medical research, foreign aid, space exploration and education.
The Pentagon would win a $12.5 billion increase in defense spending for the fiscal year, with the possibility of an additional $2.5 billion contingent on Trump delivering a plan to Congress for defeating the Islamic State militant group.
Congressional negotiators settled on $1.5 billion more for border security, including money for new technology and repairing existing infrastructure.
The impoverished U.S. territory faces a severe Medicaid funding shortfall. With that, under the deal, Puerto Rico would get an emergency injection of $295 million for its Medicaid health insurance program for the poor. Retired coal miners will be assured by a healthcare provided by U.S. government and coal companies. Also, under the spending agreement, workers will be guaranteed benefits even if coal companies face bankruptcy.
The deal also would reimburse New York City for money spent securing Trump and his family at Trump Tower in Manhattan.