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Trump and Democrats Reach Agreement on Debt Ceiling, Relief Aid

Following a meeting between President Donald Trump and congressional leaders, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced on Wednesday that they've reached a deal with the president on a legislative package combining relief aid for Hurricane Harvey victims, a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 15th, and a short-term increase in the debt ceiling.

"We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer," Trump said after the meeting on Wednesday. "We agreed to a three-month extension on debt ceiling, which they consider to be sacred—very important—always we'll agree on debt ceiling automatically because of the importance of it."

The deal is a blow for GOP congressional leaders, who had been angling for a much longer-term debt ceiling increase, and a win for Democrats. Schumer and Pelosi released a statement this morning offering the party's support (and votes) for a package combining relief aid for Hurricane Harvey victims and a short-term (through approximately December 15th) increase in the debt ceiling. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) quickly expressed his opposition to the suggestion. "We've got all this devastation in Texas, we've got a hurricane coming toward Florida, and they want to play politics with the debt ceiling?" he told reporters. "It could put in jeopardy the kind of hurricane response we need to have."

The House of Representatives passed a clean Harvey relief bill this morning; the additional provisions will be attached to that legislation in the Senate. The agreement, if it passes through Congress, would, in the short-term, avert both a government shutdown and potentially devastating default. But it sets the stage for a significant end-of-year battle, a battle in which Democrats believe they would have significant leverage with which to advance their priorities with respect to health care, government spending, and recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. A Democratic aide told the Hill that the temporary agreement would allow "Democrats to push their priorities in the upcoming negotiations, particularly the DREAM Act."