The two-year, $2.7 trillion budget deal before Congress this week forced Republican lawmakers to answer a tricky question. Which is stronger: their seemingly unswerving loyalty to President Donald Trump, or their equally reflexive opposition to Speaker Nancy Pelosi?
Yesterday, it appeared to be the latter. House Republicans overwhelmingly rejected Trump rather than siding with the Democratic leader, voting by a ratio of 2 to 1 against an agreement that exposes, once again, the president’s disinterest in fiscal restraint. The measure would lift the debt ceiling until 2021 and unlock spending caps in favor of higher funding levels for the military and domestic programs. Out of 197 Republicans, just more than two-thirds—132—voted against the deal, which was negotiated largely by Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
On some level, this vote was about conservatives in Congress returning to their Tea Party roots, standing up against a Big Government deal that would rip up the Budget Control Act of 2011—perhaps the signal victory of the right’s anti-spending push in the Barack Obama era. Yet what makes this vote peculiar is that it’s hard to read it as anything other than a rebuke of Trump, even as the same lawmakers who have led the charge against the budget deal have risen to the president’s defense against all manner of alleged transgressions. It’s the latest sign of tensions among Republicans in Washington that have recently bubbled to the surface.