Happens all the time.
But this agreement was hammered out in the Oval Office, and the photo showed President Trump and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., as it was occurring. It illustrates the rare bipartisan nature of Wednesday’s stopgap pact that increased the nation’s debt ceiling while financing emergency aid for Hurricane Harvey victims.
Schumer said Thursday he is encouraged by his party’s rare opportunity to reach consensus with a president determined to do things his way.
“It was the first time I sat down directly with him. The president hasn’t invited me since January. And it had a good outcome,” Schumer told The Buffalo News. “He called me this morning, and he said he was very pleased with what had happened. I think everybody was. At a time when bipartisanship is in such short supply and Washington is such a partisan place.”
Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi forged the three-month deal with Trump that avoided, at least for now, the bitter partisan battle that many anticipated. The deal bypassed Republican congressional leaders as Trump rejected GOP proposals that would have extended the debt ceiling deadline and negotiating period.
Trump’s reach across the aisle represented at least a temporary accomplishment in the face of his frequent inability to get his agenda passed even though the GOP controls the White House and both houses of Congress.
Schumer described called the agreement as “a good thing.”
“If everyone can work together, we can get some real things done,” he said. “If each side sits in its corner, it’s hard. And we’ve been trying.”
But the president absorbed stiff criticism from conservative Republicans incensed over his cooperation with Pelosi and Schumer. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the conservative House Freedom Caucus fears that pairing hurricane relief with another debt ceiling hike will mean more spending.
“Obviously getting a (continuing resolution) and the debt ceiling to not come due at the same time would be the most prudent fiscal decision we could make,” Rep. Mark Meadows , R-N.C. and chairman of the Freedom Caucus Chairman, told reporters, according to the Post.
But if Trump remains willing to work with Democrats on other issues, Schumer said his caucus is too. He cited previous Democratic efforts to seek consensus on health care and infrastructure legislation.
“Now maybe, maybe things are changing,” the senator said, though he added he will adopt a wait and see attitude.
He holds out hope that Trump’s compromising, which seemed to catch everyone by surprise, will continue. Schumer said that at least in this instance, Trump bought the argument that a one-sided approach could jeopardize Harvey aid while avoiding default and a government shutdown.
“I told the president I would not obstruct for its own sake,” he said. “Wouldn’t forgo principles, but when there are ways we can work together ... I would welcome it.
“I think he started out undecided, but as he listened to us, he agreed, to his credit. And so, this is ... the first really bipartisan action with the president that we’ve had,” Schumer added. “I have no knowledge yet, but I hope it’s an indication of things to come.”