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Congress approves Trump's deal with Democrats, giving the minority party momentum on tax reform, Dream Act

President Trump meets this week at the White House with congressional leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Alex Wong / European Pressphoto Agency) None
President Trump meets this week at the White House with congressional leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Alex Wong / European Pressphoto Agency)

When President Trump convened congressional leaders this week to negotiate disaster aid and avert a month-end fiscal crisis, the Oval Office conversation quickly turned to what Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called “the currency of the realm”: votes.

Republican leaders wanted to avoid a short-term accord, and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin argued that financial markets would prefer a deal to push the next deadline out 18 months, past the midterm election. At every step in the negotiation, Pelosi raised a simple question: Do Republicans have the votes?

Pelosi, perhaps the most skilled vote-counter in Congress, knew they did not. Back and forth it went until Trump cut off debate, stunning all sides by agreeing with Democrats on a stopgap measure to fund the government and lift the nation’s borrowing limit only until Dec. 8, and provide Hurricane Harvey aid.

“The president has been in a business where knowing your numbers is essential,” Pelosi said Friday in an interview with reporters. “He saw they didn’t have the votes. And we had the plan.”

Congress gave final approval Friday to the surprise package, which Trump swiftly signed into law, giving Democrats momentum over Republicans in the battles ahead over tax cuts and deportation protections for young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

The outcome was unexpected even a few days ago, but it shows the power that Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) are still able to wield in a Congress controlled by a Republican majority unable to present a unified front and with a political newcomer in the White House willing to make deals.

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