Democratic congressional leaders announced Wednesday they had reached a deal with President Trump in an Oval Office meeting to pass hurricane relief funding this week, along with measures to push off pressing fiscal deadlines to December — over the apparent objections of Republican leaders.
"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," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement. "Both sides have every intention of avoiding default in December and look forward to working together on the many issues before us."
The agreement includes bundling relief for Hurricane Harvey with a three-month continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through December 15th, in addition to a three-month fix to raise the debt limit to be passed this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will be adding those measures to the hurricane relief measure and support it on the floor.
An aide briefed on the meeting said that Republican leaders originally proposed an 18-month hike, which would extend past the 2018 midterms, then offered a six month extension before the president agreed to the Democrats' desired three-month extension.
It's a major development given the pressing list of tasks Congress had to take on over the next month, and the fact that President Trump sided with Democrats' desires over those of Republicans.
House Speaker Paul Ryan had criticized the proposal from Pelosi and Schumer on a three-month debt ceiling hike earlier on Wednesday as "playing politics" with the debt ceiling.
President Trump described the meeting to reporters on Air Force One: "We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. 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." Those comments came while the president was en route to a tax reform event in North Dakota, and he did not mention his own party's congressional leaders.
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 U.S. illegally as children and now could face the possibility of deportation.
"We discussed that also today, and Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I,"Trump said. "And I said if we can get something to happen, we're going to sign it and we're going to make a lot of happy people."
Pelosi and Schumer said in their statement that "we also made it clear that we strongly believe the DREAM Act must come to the floor and pass as soon as possible and we will not rest until we get this done."