Democrats found an unusual ally in President Donald Trump on Wednesday, as the president bypassed Republican leaders and agreed on a short-term debt ceiling increase, funding the government for another three months and setting up a budget fight for mid-December.
Publicly, Republican leaders adopted a more conciliatory tone, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying that Trump did not want to face a government shutdown when the nation is dealing with the fallout from a devastating natural disaster and potentially staring down another hurricane.
In the US House of Representatives, Freedom Caucus Chair and Trump ally Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, told the Washington Post that Trump had no conservative options on the debt ceiling to choose.
But privately, they were livid that the debt ceiling was pushed off for another few months, according to multiple reports.
“A three-month debt ceiling? Why not do a daily debt ceiling?” Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho told Politico reporters. Of Trump, Simpson added, “He’s the best deal-maker ever. Don’t you know? I mean, he’s got a book out!”
At Fox, things were different, with conservative commentator Lou Dobbs not only going to lengths to defend Trump’s deal with Democratic leaders, but also blasting Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Dobbs is a staunch defender of Trump, and characterized the president’s siding with Democrats as a result of Republicans holding up his agenda. In a strange move, Dobbs described Democrats as more willing to play ball with Trump.
“Contrast Ryan’s inane insults, his obstinance and subversion of President Trump to the behavior and rhetoric of Democratic leadership of late,” Dobbs said. “They’ve calmed themselves. They’ve been far more conciliatory in their rhetoric over recent weekends and now Ryan is fully exposed to the nation.”
Dobbs went even further, repeatedly calling Ryan a RINO — a “Republican in name only.”
“The president not only took RINO Ryan to the woodshed but eliminated any need for any Republican to ever pretend again that Ryan is a real Republican in any way or that any RINO has a political future after Mr. Trump simply booted the hapless fool of a speaker out of the way of those trying to get the nation’s business done,” Dobbs said.
Other conservative media outlets that have been sympathetic to Trump in the past were less glowing. Joel Pollak, an editor at Breitbart (now run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon), said that conservatives now have to band together to stop the president from teaming up with “liberal Republicans” and Democrats.
“By working with Democrats, Trump can bypass the Republican leadership, GOP moderates, and personal foes like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ),” Pollack wrote. “However, it also means that he can cobble deals together between liberal Republicans and the Democrat minority, leaving conservatives out in the cold. The only way to stop him is for Republicans to unite. By showing he can deal with Pelosi and Schumer, Trump may have found the one way of making them do so.”