Good morning, friends. If you noticed a … less Trumpian bent to the news this week, you weren't hallucinating — a couple major natural disasters will do that. (The Times went two full hours without mentioning the president on its homepage last week.) And then President Trump cut a deal with the Democrats, and the ensuing hot takes could probably power the Florida Keys at this point.
You're getting this email because you've signed up for a newsletter on President Trump and how his policies affect Philadelphia. If you're reading this online you can sign up to get this in your inbox, for free, every week. You can send suggestions/complaints/questions my way here or on Twitter, and if you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend!
In the midst of all that hurricane coverage on Friday, President Trump did what he tells us he does best: He ignored Congressional Republicans and cut a deal with Democratic leaders to extend the debt ceiling for the next three months and fund Hurricane Harvey relief, and spent the next several days basking in the warmth of instantly sympathetic news coverage.
There are a few ways to interpret this: You could go the mainstream political reporter route and argue that Trump is actually an independent and it was only a matter of time before he went after the Republicans. You could go the armchair-philosopher route and posit that Trump is turning on his own party because he craves approval. You could just conclude that our president is simply a capricious, unknowable being who might have been exaggerating about his negotiating skills. (Or you could be Mitch McConnell and wait a week to say that the deal was actually a good one.) Whichever way you shake it, though, Democrats are riding high, confident they've secured leverage in negotiations over another major issue that may have fallen off your radar this week: DACA.
The deal is a sign, Rep. Bob Brady said Monday, that Democrats can hold the majority's "feet to the fire" in the fight over the DACA program, which protects undocumented immigrants who arrived as children from deportation. Trump's decision to rescind it last week sparked immediate protests and dire predictions about whether Congress could pass its own version of the program. But in the wake of the debt ceiling deal, local Democrats say they feel much more confident about getting the DREAM Act passed, which would provide DACA recipients with a path to citizenship. "You dream, we'll fight," Brady told a group of DACA recipients at a presser.
Earlier Monday, Sen. Bob Casey met with the same group, and told me afterward that Democrats will try to vote in pairs with Republicans — convincing as many as possible to vote for a "clean DREAM Act," one that's not attached to border wall spending or detention centers.
Woke Bob might be on to something. A Trump official told reporters last week that the DREAM Act can pass without promises to fund a border wall, and many Republicans have expressed support for a legislative fix. Trump himself has promised to "revisit" the issue if they cannot, though it's unclear what he means by that.
It's tempting to dismiss this as standard-issue Congressional wheeling and dealing. But it's important to keep in mind what DACA recipients themselves are saying — and they have been insistent that they don't want to be used as pawns in a political fight. "We're real people," DACA recipient Prudence Powell, said at Casey's meeting yesterday. "We're not just some number."
"We may have been a little bit lucky." — President Trump, on Hurricane Irma veering west and likely sparing Florida from some of the worst storm damage.
"When you side with a man, you side with him." — ousted Trump adviser Steve Bannon, on the backlash to Trump's comments about Charlottesville in a wide-ranging 60 Minutes interview.
"I will always believe that I and many others in our nation's capital were able to go home that day and hug our families because of the courage and sacrifice of the heroes of Flight 93." — Vice President Pence at a Sept. 11 memorial service in Shanskville, Pa.