Trump lauds Indiana GOP Senate candidate, knocks Donnelly as ‘Sleepin’ Joe’

President Trump on Thursday night heaped praise on newly minted Indiana GOP Senate nominee Mike Braun while escalating attacks on his opponent, incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

During a campaign rally in Elkhart, Ind., Trump lauded Braun as an effective businessman and someone who will be a loyal backer of the president’s agenda while characterizing Donnelly as simply awaiting marching orders from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“This November Indiana will face an important choice: you can send a really incredible swamp person back to the Senate like Joe Donnelly, or you can send us a Republican like Mike Braun to drain the swamp,” Trump said, adding Donnelly “will do whatever Chuck Schumer and [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi tell him what to do.”

“If Joe Donnelly, Sleepin’ Joe and the Democrats, get back into power, remember what I said: they will raise your taxes, they will destroy your jobs, and they are going to knock the hell out of your borders,” he added.

Trump took repeated jabs at Donnelly as Republicans target the vulnerable incumbent, one of 10 Senate Democrats running for reelection this year in states that Trump carried in the 2016 election.

The president on Thursday railed against the Democratic senator for his opposition the GOP’s tax plan and efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare while underscoring Braun’s business experience.

“Mike Braun will be a great, great representative of the people of Indiana,” Trump said. “He’s a winner and very successful businessman.”

Trump invited Braun up to the stage, where the Republican nominee touted his support for the president, an issue that dominated the contentious Senate GOP primary that ended Tuesday.

“I’m a businessman and outsider just like our president, and you can count on me to be a true reinforcement and the guy who’s going to retire Joe Donnelly,” Braun said.

The decision to hold a rally two days after Braun won is seen as a way to unify Republicans after a brutal primary.

Republicans see Donnelly’s seat as a top pickup opportunity and a chance to expand their slim 51-seat majority.

But Braun, a former state legislator, endured attacks about his business record and self-funding during the primary that Democrats have already seized on ahead of the general election.

And Democrats sought to neutralize the president’s attacks ahead of his Thursday rally. Hours before Trump’s visit to Indiana, Donnelly’s campaign launched a TV ad that highlights his bipartisan work in Washington.

“It’s okay that the President and Vice President are here today for politics, but problems only get solved when you roll up your sleeves and put in the hard work,” Donnelly said in a statement after the rally. “I’m Indiana’s hired help in the Senate because I don’t work for any president or any political party – I work for Hoosiers, and that will never change.”

Vice President Pence, a former Indiana governor, touted Braun at the rally Thursday night, lauding the Senate nominee as a job creator and a stronger supporter of Trump’s agenda. The vice president also ticked through a list of votes where Donnelly didn’t align with Trump.

“Hoosiers … deserve to know when the president asked Joe Donnelly to support policies Indiana needs, Joe Donnelly voted no,” Pence said Thursday night. “Mike Braun will stand up for Hoosiers, and Mike Braun will stand with President Trump.”

Trump and Republicans are facing strong headwinds ahead of November. The president’s party historically loses seats in the first midterm election. Plus, Trump’s underwater approval ratings could hurt GOP incumbents running in competitive districts and states.

But Trump has expressed confidence that Republicans will do well in the November midterms. And he’s made repeated overtures to voters to not get “complacent” in the fall so that Republicans can protect their majorities in the House and Senate.

“It’s all at stake in November,” Trump said. “The strides that we’re making—it can also disappear if you put fools and if you put the wrong people in.”

“You have to work everyday from now and until November to elect more Republicans to continue making America great again.”

[The Hill]

Trump Sides With Democrats On Debt Ceiling, Throwing Republican Plans Into Chaos

President Trump, a man of few allegiances who seized control of the Republican Party in a hostile takeover, suddenly aligned himself with Democrats on Wednesday on a series of key fiscal issues — and even gave a lift to North Dakota’s embattled Democratic U.S. senator.

Trump confounded his party’s leaders when he cut a deal with Democratic congressional leaders — “Chuck and Nancy,” as the president informally referred to them — on a short-term plan to fund the government and raise its borrowing limit this month.

The president’s surprise stance upended sensitive negotiations over the debt ceiling and other crucial policy issues this fall and further imperiled his already tenuous relationships with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

The episode is the latest turn in Trump’s separation from his party as he distances himself to deflect blame for what has been a year of gridlock and missed opportunities for Republicans on Capitol Hill. It follows a summer of presidential stewing over McConnell and Ryan, both of whom Trump views as insufficiently loyal and weak in executing his agenda, according to his advisers.

Trump made his position clear at a White House meeting with both parties’ congressional leaders, agreeing with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on plans for a bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling for three months.

That effectively postpones until December a divisive fight over fiscal matters, including whether to fund construction of Trump’s long-promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” Trump told reporters Wednesday aboard Air Force One as he traveled to North Dakota. “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.”

In siding with Democrats, Trump overruled his own treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who was in the middle of an explanation backing a longer-term increase when the president interrupted him and disagreed, according to a person briefed on the meeting who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Trump was “in deal-cutting mode,” the person said.

After the gathering, McConnell said he would add provisions extending government funding and the debt limit through mid-December to legislation passed by the House on Wednesday providing $7.85 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief.

“The president agreed with Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi to do a three-month [funding extension] and a debt ceiling into December, and that’s what I will be offering, based on the president’s decision, to the bill,” McConnell told reporters. “The president can speak for himself, but his feeling was that we needed to come together to not create a picture of divisiveness at a time of genuine national crisis.”

Trump also threw tacit support behind the Democrats’ push for a “dreamers” bill that would effectively formalize an Obama-era program shielding undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.

Trump on Tuesday began phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which GOP hard-liners regard as illegal amnesty, but suggested Wednesday that if Congress passed a dreamers bill he might sign it.

“Chuck and Nancy want to see something happen — and so do I,” Trump said.

Later Wednesday, Trump brought a special guest with him to an oil refinery in Mandan, N.D., to pitch his tax-cut plan: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat facing a tough reelection effort in a solidly Republican state that Trump carried in 2016 by 36 percentage points. He welcomed Heitkamp into his traveling delegation, affording her the chance to appear bipartisan by standing alongside a president popular with North Dakotans.

As Heitkamp stepped onto an outdoor catwalk at the Mandan refinery to join him on stage, Trump delivered play-by-play commentary: “Everybody’s saying, ‘What’s she doing up here?’ But I’ll tell you what: Good woman.”

Trump opened his speech by recounting his “great bipartisan meeting” at the White House. “I’m committed to working with both parties to deliver for our wonderful, wonderful citizens,” Trump said, citing Schumer and Pelosi by name before mentioning the Republicans who were in attendance.

“Everybody was happy,” Trump said of the meeting. “Not too happy, because you can never be too happy, but they were happy enough.”

By setting up another debt-ceiling vote in December — a vote in which Republicans will almost certainly need Democratic help to avoid default — Democrats keep their seat at the table in this fall’s key policy debates.

Had Trump sided with GOP leaders, Democrats would have been stuck trying to extract concessions ahead of debt-ceiling votes this week using an empty threat — voting against a legislative package that includes the politically sensitive Harvey aid. Democrats believe pushing the debt-limit debate into December will increase their leverage on several issues, including the protection of dreamers and securing funds to help stabilize health-care markets.

Schumer and Pelosi also gained an edge by giving Democrats an aura of strategic command they have lacked since Trump’s election. Instead of McConnell claiming victory, it was Schumer who told reporters, “The nation can breathe a sigh of relief.”

The deal may also benefit Trump by allowing him to revive his threat to shut down the government over wall funding.

At the White House, Republican leaders pushed for an 18-month debt-limit hike, then floated doing a six-month extension, according to two aides briefed on the meeting. But Pelosi and Schumer dismissed the six-month proposal, and Trump then agreed to the three-month hike that Democrats put on the table.

McConnell and Ryan came out of the White House meeting in the weakest position — losing an opportunity to neutralize the debt-ceiling issue before the 2018 midterm elections and to exclude Democrats from major policy debates this fall.

The president’s decision came barely an hour after Ryan panned the idea of a short-term debt hike, accusing Democrats of “playing politics” with much-needed aid for Hurricane Harvey victims.

“I think that’s ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment when we have fellow citizens in need,” Ryan told reporters.

Trump apparently disagreed.

“We essentially came to a deal, and I think the deal will be very good,” Trump said. “We had a very, very cordial and professional meeting.”

Not all Democrats were so thrilled with the deal. Some were upset it did not include protections for the estimated 800,000 dreamers.

“So Trump attacks our dreamers, and the next day the Democrats walk in there and say, ‘Oh, let’s just have a nice timeout,’ while they’re all suffering?” said Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.). “That is what is wrong with Democrats. They don’t stand up.”

Schumer said he was not finished advocating for dreamers. “This is not a trade-off for us,” he said. “This is a very important issue that we’re going to fight hard for until we get it done.”

The plan for now is to suspend the debt ceiling until Dec. 15 and then revisit it with a vote by Congress before then, but the Treasury Department would retain flexibility to take emergency steps, two congressional aides said.

The short-term extensions for the debt ceiling and government funding are also expected to further cloud the prospects for enacting major tax cuts, Trump’s top domestic priority. They effectively mean spending and budget fights will continue for months, just as the GOP was hoping to coalesce around a plan to cut taxes.

Trump tried to rally support for his tax plan in North Dakota.

“Anybody that’s going to vote against tax cuts and tax reforms — whether it’s in North Dakota or anybody else or any place else — you’ve got to vote against them and get them out of office, because it’s so, it is so bad,” Trump said, pausing so that the crowd could cheer. “This is not a close one.”

The White House meeting took place just as the House approved the Harvey aid package, its first major order of business after the August recess.

The measure — providing $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $450 million for a disaster loan program for small businesses — passed 419 to 3, with 12 members not voting. Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) voted no. It now moves to the Senate, where leaders plan to hold a vote by the end of the week.

Top House Republicans barely veiled their frustration with Trump’s decision to side with Democrats on the debt ceiling. House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) said he “would have not tied the knot so tight” for December, saying an extension till at least February would have been better, but he carefully avoided criticizing Trump.

“We all do it differently,” Sessions said. “I think it was an overly generous answer that he gave our friends the Democrats. But I’m not going to be critical of my president. I support my president.”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, was among those who warned that Democrats’ short-term debt-limit request could threaten GOP efforts to cut spending.

“Obviously getting a [continuing resolution] and the debt ceiling to not come due at the same time would be the most prudent fiscal decision we could make,” Meadows told reporters.

[Washington Post]

Reality

Both McConnell and Ryan were reportedly shocked and furious. You can see this in the press conferences after where Ryan went ballistic, claiming Democrats were playing politics with the debt ceiling. However it was Republicans who were willing to let the country default… again, and threaten a shutdown.