With other key Republicans waylaid, it fell to Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) to talk the president down. So Graham raced to Trump’s Florida golf club and worked the problem: What possible solution could assuage Trump without forcing Congress to reopen negotiations?
“We’d hit a shot, take a phone call. Hit a shot, take a phone call. Hit a shot, talk about what’s a good deal,” Graham said in an interview Monday. “It was a very intense Christmas Day.”…
In truth, however, Graham and other Trump allies — including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — had negotiated a near-complete surrender. Trump’s statement promised a “formal rescission request” to cut spending on foreign aid and vowed that the Senate would “start the process for a vote” to curb liability protections for tech firms. But none of it is guaranteed, or even likely, to change the terms of the deal Congress passed a week ago.
Even the effort to increase the size of the stimulus checks appeared to be a mirage. Though 44 Republicans joined virtually every House Democrat in supporting the measure late Monday, the bill faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where many Republicans oppose the sizable price tag. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has yet to sketch out a course of action with scant days remaining before the current Congress adjourns and Georgia voters determine control of the chamber in a pair of Jan. 5 runoffs.