Dispute over US defense budget: Republicans move away from Trump

The rifts between the White House and the Republicans in Congress are deepening in the final meters of the Trump presidency. Whether with the defense budget or with the Corona aid: There is a dispute within the party.

By Sebastian Hesse, ARD Studio Washington

Mitch McConnell has perhaps the toughest job in Washington these days. As the “majority leader” in the Senate – a mixture of parliamentary group leader and parliamentary speaker – the most powerful Republican after Trump decides whether and when to vote on which topic. On the defense budget, McConnell is unequivocally opposed to the president.

Accordingly, the Senate will today, like the House of Representatives before, override Trump’s veto. That alone earned McConnell the anticipated furor from the White House. “We need new and energetic Republican leadership,” Trump tweeted. “The Republican leadership is weak and tired.”

Trump wants higher corona emergency aid

Trump continues to put pressure on his party to collapse and at least approve the higher Corona direct aid. Ironically, he has the opposition Democrats on his side. And in fact, the first Republican MPs are swinging around: First and foremost the two senators from Georgia who will face a runoff election on January 5th: Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Neither of them can afford the president’s wrath: Without Trump’s support, their chances of voting are falling rapidly.

“We are the last line of defense against the onslaught of the Democrats and their radical socialist program,” said Perdue, who is well aware that it is about much more than just his career: namely, the wafer-thin Senate majority of Republicans.

Senate Republican majority is at stake

“If we win these two Senate seats and the Republicans secure a majority in the Senate,” emphasizes Perdue, “then we can slow down the Democrats and preserve Trump’s legacy!” So this is the current dilemma: If the Republicans opt for their convictions, say for the less expensive aid package – then the vengeful Trump could screw up the Georgia runoff and the Senate majority would be lost.

Notorious Trump opponents such as the former security advisor John Bolton are still promoting the release from the president’s grip.

“If more and more Republicans break with the president on principle, that would only be good and healthy for the party!”

Trumps Trumps

In any case, Mitch McConnell wants to pull himself out of the affair with a political ruse. It bundles three Trumpian concerns: the higher corona payments, stricter regulation of tech companies and a committee of inquiry into alleged electoral fraud – and lets vote on them in the package. In the hope that hardly any senator supports all three concerns.

At least the grumbling president will not be able to claim that his wishes have been ignored. Just a few weeks ago, such a trick of Trump would have been unthinkable.

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