President Donald Trump has agreed to support a three-month extension of the debt ceiling and government funding through Dec. 15, siding with congressional Democratic leaders over his own party and setting up another fight over must-pass fiscal legislation later this year.
The deal, which would tack on the limited extensions to Hurricane Harvey relief funds, was announced following Trump’s meeting at the White House with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.
“We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One after the meeting. “We agreed to a three-month extension on debt ceiling, which they consider to be sacred — very important — always we’ll agree on debt ceiling automatically because of the importance of it.”
Republicans have long favored a long-term increase of the debt ceiling, which the United States is expected to hit later this month.
Earlier this morning ahead of the meeting, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called Democrats’ proposal to tie a three-month debt extension to hurricane relief funds “ridiculous,” and accused Democrats of playing politics.
In the White House meeting, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Ryan all call for a longer-term hike of the debt limit to prevent a U.S. government default. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also supported that position, according to sources in the room.
After Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., objected, Trump agreed to a short-term proposal to fund the government and extend the debt limit for three months, in line with Democrats’ initial position.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and White House advisor entered the Oval Office near the end of the meeting, which soon veered off topic, according to sources briefed on the meeting. The appearance of Trump’s eldest daughter visibly annoyed the Republican leaders, according to a Democratic source.
In response, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said that she was asked “to briefly join the meeting for an update on the child care tax credit and how we are working to make tax reform a bi-partisan issue.”
“It was a quick and productive conversation,” he added.
Earlier Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved nearly $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief funds Wednesday in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the first of several expected installments to aid recovery in areas devastated by the massive storm.
The bill was approved in a 419-3 vote, with three Republicans voting against the proposal: Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky.
The proposal includes roughly $7.5 billion to replenish FEMA’s disaster relief coffers. An additional $450 million would help finance disaster loans through the Small Business Association.
The measure now heads to the Senate. Congress is expected to send the package to the White House for Trump’s signature later week, after the Senate adds the debt limit hike to the bill and sends it back to the Senate for final passage.