A newborn Trump-Dem fellowship? It’s complicated.
President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D), two New Yorkers with a long and checkered history, joined forces this week on a high-stakes fiscal bargain that shoved aside the wishes of Trump’s Republican allies.
The two party leaders — both Big Apple power-brokers known as sharp-elbowed dealmakers — have sparred throughout the year, trading shots over a host of issues.
But in a move that stunned Washington, the pair, joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), united on Wednesday to secure a short-term deal to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and provide aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey — a proposal initially opposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Trump and Schumer built on the nascent alliance by agreeing to seek reforms that would altogether eliminate the need for Congress to hike the debt ceiling — yet another proposal opposed by the president’s Republican allies.
And on Thursday evening, the pair met again as part of a larger group of New Jersey and New York lawmakers gathered at the White House to discuss funding for the Gateway Program, a multibillion-dollar proposal to tunnel a rail line beneath the Hudson River.
Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), who attended the White House meeting, said there was “very good chemistry” between Schumer and the president, predicting this week’s negotiations are a sign that Trump, after largely ignoring or insulting the Democrats for months, is ready to start reaching across the aisle for the sake of winning legislative victories.
“For me, it goes beyond that particular deal. It’s the president sending a message that he’s going to work across the aisle to get things done. He’s not going to allow any small factions to dominate the Congress,” King told The Hill. “Reagan did it with Tip O’Neil; Eisenhower did it with LBJ. I mean, that’s government.”
Yet the hot-and-cold relationship between the president and top Democrats leaves plenty of open questions about how well they’ll work together moving forward.
Trump’s relationship with Schumer stretches back decades, to the mid-1990s, when the Manhattan billionaire first started funneling money to Schumer’s campaigns — donations that have totaled thousands of dollars over the years. Trump’s campaign largess has benefited Pelosi, as well. In the 2006 cycle along, Trump donated $20,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, helping the Democrats win control of the…