Here’s how Mitch McConnell outsmarted Trump — even though it created a major rift in the GOP
HBO screenshot/CNN screenshot

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has ignored complaints from Donald Trump and reached a deal with Democrats to extend the debt ceiling and avoid a government shutdown.

"We’re seeing some pretty significant fissures inside the Senate Republican Conference over the debt-limit strategy," Punchbowl News reported Wednesday. "Some of the "no" votes tell us that Republicans already helped Democrats raise the debt limit once and they shouldn't do it again."

Punchbowl noted the position of three Senate Republicans who are seen as hopefuls to be the next GOP leader. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. John Cornyn are both backing McConnell's deal, while Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the chair of the Senate GOP Conference, remains undecided.

"But there was “a lot of pushback” in the GOP Conference meeting on Tuesday where McConnell laid out the plan, according to Republicans sources. Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) -- normally “safe” leadership allies -- all raised concerns, as did more hardline conservatives," Punchbowl reported. "Some Republicans seem to be struggling with voting no because the debt-limit process bill also includes language to delay Medicare sequestration cuts. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a hardliner who one would expect to be against any debt-limit increase, questioned why any Republicans would vote against the measure."

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Punchbowl said the deal "seems to be sailing through the Congress quite easily."

But Trump is not on board, issuing a statement on Tuesday complaining about the "pathetic" strategy of Senate Republicans.

"USE THE DEBT CEILING TO WIN, AND MEAN IT THIS TIME!" Trump said, in all capital letters.

Republican senators have repeatedly sided with McConnell over Trump when the former president has demanded particular votes.

In October, Trump also tried to kill a debt limit increase.

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"Republican Senators, do not vote for this terrible deal being pushed by folding Mitch McConnell," Trump argued, shortly before he lost the vote as eleven GOP senators joined with Democrats on a procedural vote.

In August, Trump urged Republicans to use the debt limit as leverage to kill the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. But his advice was rejected by nineteen Republicans Senators.