Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan had good reason to be irritated by the distraction as they probably lost their last opportunity to dissuade President Trump from handing a win to the Democrats by agreeing to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi's proposed three-month deal to raise the debt ceiling rather than side with the GOP's 18-month position.
Trump not only undercut Republican congressional leaders but also his own advisers-including Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, who had also advocated for passing a debt limit hike that would allow Congress to avoid another one of these showdowns before the 2018 elections. "And we'll try to get 60 votes and move forward", McConnell told reporters. "So we have an extension, which will go out to December 15th".
Democrats have also sought legislation to stabilize the health insurance markets, which have been mired by uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act With Republicans failing thus far in their attempts to repeal and replace the healthcare law, Democrats could make their support for raising the debt ceiling contingent upon funding to stabilize the health insurance marketplace established by the ACA.
Democrats were the first to announce the deal, which appeared to come despite some objections from Republicans.
"In the meeting, the President and Congressional leadership agreed to pass aid for Harvey, an extension of the debt limit, and a continuing resolution both to December 15, all together", Schumer and Pelosi said in a statement after the meeting. The initial Democratic offer did not mention the government funding, but it has always been seen as legislation that could be paired with a debt limit hike. But by the end of the meeting, Trumpsided with Democrats who wanted a three-month increase.
Trump also hinted there could be a deal reached to protect so-called "DREAMers", after his administration announced the end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which puts in limbo the fate of 800,000 young people who came to the us illegally as children and now could face the possibility of deportation. Lindsey Graham, with whom he co-sponsored the Dream Act, Alaska Sen.
Conservative groups criticized the deal, saying it weakens the hands of Republicans by giving Democrats more power over a spending bill at the end of the year.
The House overwhelmingly passed a bill to provide $7.9bn for victims of the floods before the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) runs out of funds later this week.
The Wisconsin Republican told reporters it was a "ridiculous idea" and said this was no time to play politics with the debt ceiling as Texas recovers from the devastation of Harvey and Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida.
Ryan also faced opposition within his conference to a long extension of the debt limit.
With a 419 to 3 vote, the relief marks just the first step in a long recovery process for Louisiana and Texas.
The U.S. would have defaulted on its debt had the ceiling not been raised, an unprecedented event that would've tarnished the nation's credit rating.
While conservative Republicans are opposed to linking storm relief to a debt limit bill, Democratic congressional leaders have said they would support tying the aid to a shorter-term debt ceiling increase.
That got support from top Republicans including Sen.