House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan doesn’t blame President Donald Trump for striking a deal with Democratic leaders that the Ohioan considers bad for taxpayers.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” the conservative representative instead cast blame on his party’s leaders for failing to present the president with better options — thus forcing Trump to accept a three-month extension of government funding and the debt limit with no fiscal reforms.
“Frankly, what options did the president have in front of him?” Jordan said.
The Republican conference hadn’t even discussed the debt limit until Wednesday morning, Jordan said, adding that Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership team made a mistake by breaking for the traditional long August recess without a plan to tackle the debt limit.
“When you fail to prepare, you get a bad outcome. And that’s what happened here,” Jordan said. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t any good option presented to him.”
Trump’s fiscal deal puts House conservatives in a tough position politically — unable to praise the move, but wary of criticizing the president directly for fear of blowback from his loyal base. Unlike congressional Republican leaders, Trump remains popular among Republican voters, and especially in solidly Republican districts such as Jordan’s in northwest Ohio.
Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made no secret of the fact that they didn’t want the three-month extension; they pushed for a longer-term accord. But Trump accepted the offer by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the short-term deal, which sets up a new Dec. 8 deadline to keep the government functioning.
The legislation, which included $15.25 billion in disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey, passed Congress with unanimous Democratic support and dozens of Republican defections. Trump signed it into law on Friday.
Regardless of his disappointment, Jordan downplayed talk of the conservative group mounting a coup against Ryan. He said the bloc’s only goal now is to deliver on its promises and called on Ryan to “focus on tax cuts” by releasing a plan and taking the case to Americans.
“No one’s talking about changing the leadership,” Jordan said.
(c) 2017, Bloomberg · Sahil Kapur