“He has more relationships than anybody would care to confess with Democrats,” a source knowledgeable about Trump’s activities told the Washington Examiner, describing the president as “a very willing partner” when it comes to negotiating his priorities with Congress.
On issues where Democrats and Republicans share a common interest, they are finding the opportunity to create common cause — despite the political consequence for Democrats of helping a president running for reelection and for Trump of aiding a Congress looking for achievements, according to the source. The president “has found great partners and sustained partners in Congress,” particularly on trade, health policy, education, and employment.
Highlighting the cooperation is the steady work on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade. Both parties have been meeting regularly with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Capitol Hill to ensure the deal is finished by the end of 2019. “Letting it slip to a presidential election year is a flirtation with danger when it comes to presidential politics,” said Michael Zona, communications director for Sen. Chuck Grassley, who, as Finance Committee chairman, has taken a lead in the negotiations. A final agreement appears close at hand.
Commentary Editor Tim Carney on the expanded Washington Examiner magazine
Lighthizer has “been working with us in good faith — we’ve been enjoying working with him,” a House Democratic said. The bill will “absolutely” make it to the floor by the end of the year, “it is 95% there.”
“We are so close,” the aide said. “Whatever Pelosi and [lawmakers] agree on in the House and the Senate” will go forward, “and then the president will sign.”
On Monday, Trump told reporters: “I’m hearing very good things. I hope they put it up to a vote. If they put it up to a vote, it’s going to pass. A lot of Democrats want to pass it, too.”
Other items on the president’s wish list include legislation on prescription drug pricing, the creation of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the military, and finalizing a budget deal.
“I’m not quite sure what their thought process currently is,” said one source on the Democrats’ choice to impeach as bills and a looming budget crisis beckon. “There are a lot of potential legislative accomplishments that could be achieved in the next few weeks. Whether there is a calibration they need to go through and whether or not they do so, and what sort of conclusions they draw, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Motivating the left side of the aisle is that, for several weeks, failure to pass bills while pressing full-court on the president’s impeachment has made Democrats in Trump-leaning districts vulnerable to criticism that they are privileging their party’s disdain for the president over legislative action.
November saw swing-state House Democrats Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Mikie Sherrill, Josh Gottheimer and Andy Kim of New Jersey, Xochitl Torres of New Mexico, Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Anthony Brindisi and Max Rose of New York, Cynthia Axne of Iowa, and Elaine Luria of Virginia in the crossfire of attack ads. And at the encouragement of Trump surrogates on the Virginia-based John Fredericks Radio Network, voters have confronted them on their impeachment stance by voters during Thanksgiving town halls.
Still, in the current heated climate, acknowledging a willingness to cooperate does not come easy. House Democrats have all but ignored USMCA publicly, according to an analysis conducted by a Republican congressional office that counted 468 remarks by Democratic lawmakers on the agreement, compared to 5,123 by Republicans, between January and December 2019. The deal is one of Trump’s signature campaign promises.