House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called President Trump on Sunday morning to urge him to support a House-passed bill that would expand background checks on firearm purchases. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he won't allow a vote on any gun measure Trump hasn't committed to signing, and Trump has gone back and forth on background checks.
Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement Sunday afternoon that they "made it clear to the president that any proposal he endorses that does not include the House-passed universal background checks legislation will not get the job done." To sweeten the deal, they promised if Trump "endorses this legislation and gets Sen. McConnell to act on what the House has passed, we would both join him for a historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden."
The 11-minute call took place while Trump was at his golf course in Northern Virginia, a Democratic aide tells The Washington Post, and the Rose Garden gambit was Schumer's idea. White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said Trump "made no commitments" on specific gun measures in the "cordial" phone conversation but is interested in "working to find a bipartisan legislative solution on appropriate responses to the issue of mass gun violence."
A historic Rose Garden signing ceremony was also reportedly daughter/adviser Ivanka Trump's pitch to get her father to support universal background checks. The National Rifle Association appeared to have talked Trump out of the idea, and Pelosi and Schumer resurrecting it "was a bit of public posturing," The New York Times reports. They know it's unlikely Trump will embrace a measure opposed by the NRA, even though polls show that roughly 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. Peter Weber
By the end of Thursday, pretty much everybody was confused over whether President Trump had reached a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, or at least the framework for a deal, with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) over Chinese food Wednesday night.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who didn't learn about the deal until Trump called him 12 hours afterward, said there'd been "a discussion, not an agreement or a negotiation." Schumer said "we're all going to support the DREAM Act and we're going to push for it to get on the floor soon," adding, "That part is agreed to." Trump said many things, but he told reporters on Thursday, "We're working on a plan for DACA" and "the wall will come later." He added, "I just spoke with Paul Ryan, he's on board. Everybody is on board."
What doesn't seem in dispute is that Trump has a better rapport with "Chuck and Nancy," as he's taken to calling them, than the leaders of his own party. And it isn't just Schumer who thinks so. "Schumer just talks to him," a White House source tells Politico. "You get Mitch and Paul in here, and they're trying to explain this or that, and there is no personal connection." Trump has reportedly complained that he finds it hard to make even small talk with McConnell, and only finds "boy scout" Ryan a little more simpatico. At a meeting last week, one attendee told Politico, Trump grinned at Schumer so much it was "almost uncomfortable," shook his hand repeatedly, and said he was better at keeping Democrats together than McConnell is at corralling his caucus.
And it's not just Chuck and Nancy. Democrats in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus said they were surprised at Trump's interest in their views at a high-level meeting earlier Wednesday. "I assumed he was going to lecture us for about an hour and tell us how great he was and talk about the election, but he didn't do that," Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) told Politico. "It was pretty productive." Trump is apparently courting Democrats, at least for now, because he likes the favorable coverage and wants victories the GOP hasn't delivered. Also, Trump wants hard-right Republicans to "feel the burn a little bit" and know he doesn't need them, a lawmaker tells The Washington Post. Peter Weber