President Donald Trump chose the pragmatist over the rabble-rousers.
In deciding who would lead the White House in budget and debt-ceiling negotiations with Capitol Hill, the president learned a lesson from his embarrassing government shutdown earlier this year: Brush aside the budget hawks in his own party, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and focus on minimizing any drama heading into an election year.
Trump looked to Steven Mnuchin, his longtime friend, 2016 campaign official and now Cabinet member who earned a new reputation this week as a political deal-maker in Washington and helped Trump postpone any risky financial brinkmanship until after 2020.
The Treasury secretary took the lead in the five-month-long negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, striking a deal to raise the debt ceiling and set spending levels past the 2020 election. House lawmakers are set to vote on the agreement Thursday and are expected to approve it, despite widespread grumbling within the GOP.
“I was really impressed. It was a really challenging situation,” McConnell said in an interview. Mnuchin “spoke for the administration. And we knew that. So whatever differences they may have had, they resolved internally. And that was helpful, too, because we knew who we were dealing with.”