Budget Agreement Shows Congress In Control, Trump Sidelined

Last week I wrote that the failure of the AHCA, the increasing awareness that Trump is constantly bluffing, then folding, and Trump’s clear weakness would allow Congress to take control of the GOP agenda going forward. The latest deal on a continuing resolution that keeps the government funded through September shows that is exactly what has happened. Virtually all of Trump’s “demands” have been ignored. This was partly driven by the need to get Democratic votes but also by Congressional Republicans’ realizing they don’t have much to fear in ignoring the President.

Trump’s signature campaign promise, the border wall, was left unfunded entirely. There was no money for an increased deportation force. There are no cuts in funding to sanctuary cities. Planned Parenthood was not de-funded. There was even more money for the sciences and renewable energy. In addition, as part of the agreement, the Trump administration agreed to keep on paying the insurer subsidies that are a critical part of the ACA, payments Trump had threatened to cut off in order to get Democrats to negotiate. The only item that Trump can point to as a “win” is the increase in the defense budget, but that increase was actually far less than what Trump had originally sought.

While Congress may be taking control of the agenda, that does not mean that it will be any easier to get things done. As we have seen with the 2017 budget and the AHCA, the divisions within the GOP caucus are pretty deep. Republican moderates in the House are getting increasingly nervous about 2018. Getting anything through the Senate other than by budget reconciliation will require Democratic votes. Trump may be sidelined, but progress on the GOP agenda may be just as problematic.

I’ve also written about this and other issues on my personal blog at [tidalsoundings.blogspot.com]