Conservatives Blast ‘Swamp Deal’ Tying Debt-Ceiling Hike to Harvey Funds
Despite Trump's cutting bargain with Democrats, activists lay blame on GOP congressional leaders
Conservative activists Wednesday blasted a White House deal with congressional Democrats for a short-term increase in the nation’s borrowing limit but mostly placed the blame on House and Senate GOP leaders
President Donald Trump surprised House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by agreeing to raise the debt ceiling for three months and tying it to politically popular aid for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Congressional Republicans had pushed for a longer horizon for the debt-ceiling increase, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wanted only thee months in order to give Democrats more leverage when Congress puts together a funding package for the entire fiscal year.
"This is straight out of the swamp, and I call on President Trump to say something publicly about this. [It] is a swamp deal and will not be tolerated," FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon told reporters on a conference call.
Brandon predicted the deal would harm prospects for tax reform. He urged Congress to insist on coupling the debt-ceiling rise with a conservative priority, such as spending reform or passage of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, which would subject any new regulation costing more than $100 million to a vote in Congress.
"Let's at least get something that the grass roots can cheer," he said.
"He is kind of going down here a little bit on this sinking ship called the Republican Party."
Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, said the deal essentially extends former President Barack Obama's spending priorities another three months. He accused Ryan and McConnell of lying when they said in March that the right time to fund Trump's border wall was not then but at the end of the fiscal year.
He said Republican leaders continually allow themselves to be held hostage by their party's most liberal elements, such as the Tuesday Group in the House.
"What we're seeing is a continuous running out the clock on the Trump administration," he said. "Tomorrow never comes."
But David Bozell, president of ForAmerica, said Trump shares in the blame. He said this is the kind of moment that could "derail President Trump's presidency" and suggested there is a reason why his campaign rally in Arizona last month was not filled to capacity.
"He is kind of going down here a little bit on this sinking ship called the Republican Party," he said.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was blunt on Twitter: "The Pelosi-Schumer-Trump deal is bad."
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said this is not what voters expected when they gave Republicans control of the executive and legislative branches.
"The policies we are getting are liberal Democrat policies," she said. "This is not the way it's supposed to work."
The agreement that was announced today would give Democrats even more leverage over government funding, Martin said.
"That's a fool's play, a trap," she said, "and Republicans should reject it out of hand."
Martin, who organized the conference call with reporters, touted a proposal by the conservative House Freedom Caucus to cap federal spending at no more than 20 percent of the gross domestic product. She said Congress should raise the debt limit high enough to keep the government in business for at least four months to get past the Christmas break. She also called for the measure to stand on its own and not be tied to hurricane relief aid.
Martin added that her members worked hard to help elect Trump and a Republican Congress.
"We didn't work this hard just to raise the debt ceiling without any spending reductions or spending reforms," she said. "And we didn't work this hard to continue down the same path as before."
Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said Republicans should avoid the trap of striking a deal that relies on future spending cuts.
"It is uncountable how many times we have been promised spending cuts later for more debt now," he said.
Chip Roy, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Center for Tenth Amendment Action, said also said it is "cowardly" to mix hurricane relief with the debt ceiling.
"How much debt will it take?" he asked. "How bad does it have to get until these guys actually do their job? Twenty-five trillion dollars of debt? Thirty trillion? Fifty trillion? Two-to-one of our GDP?"