Schumer turns GOP tactics on Trump – The Hill
Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Finance: Spending deal winners and losers | Seven things to know about the deal | Trump mulls breaking up big banks Dems to Trump, GOP: Work with us after spending deal This week: Congress seeks to avoid shutdown MORE (D-N.Y.) capped off his first 100 days as Senate Democratic leader under President Trump with a big win on spending, signaling how he plans to deal with Republicans in the months ahead.
Schumer and former Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSchumer turns GOP tactics on Trump How Dems have evolved on border security Judd Gregg: An American Parliament MORE (D-Nev.) blasted Senate Republicans throughout President Obamaâs presidency for obstructing his agenda.
But just over three monthâs into Trumpâs first term, Schumerâs playbook looks similar to the one Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSchumer turns GOP tactics on Trump Trump, GOP off to a rocky start Pence follows George H.W. Bush as vice president model MORE (R-Ky.) used against Obama eight years ago.
Itâs a flashback to 2009: keep the minority unified and use every opportunity to slow down the presidentâs agenda.Â
Frustrated, Trump has lashed out at Schumer in recent days.Â
âSenator Schumer is a bad leader. Iâve known him for a long time. Senator Schumer is a bad leader, not a natural leader at all,â Trump told supporters at a rally in Harrisburg, Pa.,Â Saturday.
On Sunday, Trump blasted Democrats in a CBS News interview as âextremely obstructionistâ and slammed Schumer againÂ on MondayÂ during a sit-down with Fox News. Â
âIf slowing things and pitching a fit is successful, he was very successful,â Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin HatchSchumer turns GOP tactics on Trump White House tax-reform push is âgame changer,â says ex-chairman Trump’s tax plan a new death tax for the middle class? MORE (R-Utah) said of Schumer.
Republicans say he exceeded McConnell by slowing the confirmations of Trumpâs Cabinet nominees to a crawl. Democrats held three all-night talk-a-thons to protest Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSchumer turns GOP tactics on Trump Medical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill Pro-pot provisions survive spending deal negotiations MORE, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.Â
Schumer also launched the first partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, something McConnell never didÂ as minority leader.Â
McConnell, however, after winning the majority, denied President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, a hearing and vote for most of 2016 â which Democrats say broke 230 years of precedent.Â
âThey dislike Trump so much that they literally did everything to try and destroy his presidency right off the bat,â Hatch said of Schumer and other Democrats.
Schumerâs hardball tactics sent a message: he and his colleagues were dead serious about pulling out all the stops to fight Trump. It gave him leverage in the recent spending talks, since Republicans had little doubt Schumer would force a shutdown if they didnât back off their demands.
âWe made it clear that if the government shut down it would be on the Republicansâ backs,â Schumer told reporters at the CapitolÂ Monday. âThat became the general consensus and that gave us real leverage even though we were in the minority to get things done.â
Fearing a shutdown would delay tax reform and derail any hopes of reviving healthcare reform legislation, Republicans abandoned Trumpâs request to fund construction of a border wall as well as various riders to loosen environmental and financial regulations.Â
Schumer was exultant, touting it as âa very good deal for the American people.â
He sees the budget as a roadmap for upcoming talks on other major issues.Â
âI hope this is a metaphor for the future. When Republicans work with us, we can get things done,â Schumer saidÂ Monday.
Schumerâs plan is to keep his Democrats unified in hopes of exploiting divisions within the Republican Party â just as he did by picking off GOP senators who opposed the border wall or who wanted to see more funding for the National Institutes of Health and Pell Grants.
He hopes it will push Trump to reach out to Democrats on tax reform and infrastructure, after a healthcare debate that saw Trump avoid cutting deals with Democrats.Â
But Republicans say Schumerâs opposition likely to do the opposite.
A senior GOP strategist said that after the way Schumer treated Gorsuch, a judge rated well-qualified by the American Bar Association, thereâs no chance of Democrats working with Trump on tax reform. He said thatâs all the more reason to overhaul the tax code with a party-line vote under a special budgetary process known as reconciliation, which will enable Republicans to bypass the traditional 60-vote threshold required to beat a filibuster.
Democrats say a key difference between Schumer in 2017 and McConnell in 2009 is that Obama spent his first year in office trying to woo GOP support for the economic stimulus and healthcare reform.
Tax cuts made up 40 percent of the cost of Obamaâs first stimulus proposal, and Democrats spent almost a year trying to woo Republicans such as former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to support ObamaCare, they note.
By contrast, centrist red-state Democrats such as Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSchumer turns GOP tactics on Trump Overnight Energy: Trump open to gas tax increase Seven things to know about the government funding deal MORE (D-W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampSchumer turns GOP tactics on Trump This week: Congress seeks to avoid shutdown Dems struggle with abortion litmus test MORE (D-N.D.) and Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillSchumer turns GOP tactics on Trump Seven key players for Trump on immigration Five takeaways from the Georgia special election MORE (D-Mo.) say there has been little serious outreach from the president to date. Â Â
Under heavy pressure from the Democratic base, Schumer has dug in against Trumpâs agenda, defying predictions that he would be a pragmatic dealmaker who couldnât be trusted by liberals.Â
A week after Trumpâs surprising victory over Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonKasich: Trumpâs inaugural speech âwasnât helpfulâ for US Schumer turns GOP tactics on Trump House GOPâs new challengers: Scientists mulling campaigns MORE, The New York Times highlighted what it called the âSenate Democratsâ Surprising Strategy: Trying to Align with Trump.âÂ
Schumer announced a week after the election that Democrats were âready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Republicans â working with soon-to-be President Trump on issues where we agreeâ while cautioning he wouldnât be afraid to âgo toe-to-toeâ against the president when their values clashed.
So far, though, there has been lot more clashing than cooperation. Amazingly, Schumer has kept his caucus unified, even though ten Democratic colleagues face re-election in states Trump carried in November.
The bottom line for Trump is that he has not been able to put much pressure on Democrats facing re-election in states he won by big margins, forcing him to rely on his own party at a time when itâs riven by divisions between the leadership and conservative rebels.
âI think Chuckâs done a good job,â said Sen. Jon TesterJon TesterSchumer turns GOP tactics on Trump Leading the charge to âkeep it publicâ This week: Congress seeks to avoid shutdown MORE (D-Mont.), who is running for re-election in a state won by 20 points. âThe caucus isnât the easiest to work with because youâve got all sorts of differences of opinions.âÂ
He disputed that Schumer has become too beholden to the liberal base.
âI donât buy that,â he said. âChuck listens to people and I think thus far he has reacted appropriately.â
The challenge for the GOP is whether they will be able to inflict enough damage on Democrats by calling them obstructionist to either force more cooperation or win more electoral victories.
Democrats tried for years to paint Senate Republicans as obstructionist, but it didnât save their 60-seat majority in 2009 from becoming a 46-seat minority in 2015.Â
Some of Schumerâs other decisions have been criticized, too.
Republicans say the filibuster of Gorsuch backfired because it resulted in a rules change, stripping Democrats of the power to filibuster a future Trump nominee to the high court when the stakes might be higher or the political environment changed.
But Democrats argue that McConnell would have employed the nuclear option to change the rules even if a liberal seat on the court became open in 2020, the next presidential election year.
âIt was the right move because Gorsuch wasnât the right guy for the court,â said Tester, who voted to filibuster Gorsuch.
âEither we come out of this with a base motivated, engaged and energized, or one that is deflated,â a senior Democratic aide said of the decision to filibuster Gorsuch.
Schumerâs and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosiâs (D-Calif.) choice of former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) to deliver the response to Trumpâs first address to a join session of Congress elicited mockery from the GOP and grumbling from some liberal sectors like the Huffington Post, which portrayed Beshear’s selection as a symbol of the partyâs struggle to move forward.Â
A senior Democratic aide acknowledged that Beshear âflubbedâ some of his lines, but argued that he was uniquely positioned to highlight the success of ObamaCare in providing health insurance to low-income Americans in red states such as Kentucky.
Republicans also highlight the 13 Obama-era regulations they rolled back under the Congressional Review Act on Schumerâs watch. They argue that Schumer has failed to pick off enough Republican votes to defeat the measures, revealing his limited traction with GOP colleagues.
But Democrats say these are minor victories as they only repealed regulations from the last few months of Obamaâs tenure. Furthermore, they argue that there are several rules that Republicans donât dare challenging for fear of losing.
A Democratic aide noted that Senate Republicans have not acted on resolutions to overturn a Department of Labor regulation designed to promote broader access to workplace retirement savings plans, a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule for prepaid credit cards and a Bureau of Land Management Regulation limiting the venting, flaring and leaking of methane from oil and gas operations on public lands. Â
Schumer says Republicans will need to start working with his caucus, or face more problems with their agenda.Â
âIf on healthcare or if it occurs on the tax bill, they just try to do things on their own, theyâre not going to be able to accomplish anything,â he said.
– This story was updated on March 2.