Republicans, and Trump, in Disarray

Really, the whole GOP seems to be melting down now. It’d be fun to watch if the consequences weren’t so dire.

Let’s start with this story — House GOP’s pleas to Republican National Committee for financial help go unanswered.

Senior House Republicans are pleading with the deep-pocketed Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign to provide financial help as Democrats vastly outraise the GOP, but top campaign officials are so far declining to commit.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has been prodding the RNC to write a check to the National Republican Congressional Committee — a request he has made multiple times. McCarthy specifically has asked Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, to make a financial commitment to the House GOP, according to several officials familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe private conversations.

But Kushner, who oversees such decisions and has a greater say than RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, has refused thus far, the officials say. While the Trump campaign and the RNC have brought in record amounts of money, some Trump officials see donating to the House as a wasteful investment as the GOP’s chances of reclaiming the majority sharply deteriorate. Their decline in fortunes can largely be attributed to Trump’s sagging support over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the sliding economy.

This is fascinating. How did Mr. Ivanka seize control of the RNC’s money? Not that I mind; Mr. Ivanka screws up everything he touches. And if the big shots in the GOP have decided it’s not worth fighting to get back the House, fine with me.

Trump is not getting everything he wants these days, though. He had to cancel his big whoop-dee-doo nomination party in Jacksonville. The Senate made it clear Trump wasn’t going to get a payroll tax cut, so he backed down. He’s even been asking people to wear masks.

Philip Rucker, WaPo:

For Trump, this has been a week of retreat. Rather than bending others to his will, the president has been the one backing down from long-held positions in the face of resistance from fellow Republicans or popular opposition, scrambling to resurrect his reelection campaign while the coronavirus continues to ravage the nation.

Weakened politically by his response to the pandemic, Trump changed course after polls showed his positions did not align with public attitudes or — as was the case with the payroll tax cut — his Republican allies on Capitol Hill declined to advance his interests.

“The good ship Trump has sprung a leak, and it’s leaking political capital,” said Timothy Naftali, a historian at New York University and a former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

“I don’t think the president is pivoting,” Naftali said. “I think the president is backtracking because he is facing head winds, and those are head winds from elected Republicans.”

And then there was this tweet, from yesterday.

You might have heard that the Senate and House both passed a bill that does call for re-naming the bases named for Confederate generals. And you might have heard that this bill passed with a veto-proof majority in the Senate. And if you heard that, you heard right. This happened two day ago:

The Senate passed its version of a $740 billion defense bill Thursday by a veto-proof majority, in the latest sign that Congress is undeterred by President Trump’s threat to reject legislation mandating that the Pentagon rename bases honoring Confederate generals.

The 86-to-14 Senate vote follows the House’s 295-to-125 vote earlier in the week on parallel legislation. Both bills instruct the Defense Department to come up with new names for the problematic bases; the Senate gives the Pentagon three years to make the changes, while the House bill instructs officials to finish the process within one year.

Yet, it says here, after the Senate bill passed, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said that the renaming provision would be removed, and that Inhofe said he spoke with Trump about the provision, which they both oppose. Imhofe must think this is going to happen as the House and Senate bills are reconciled. I don’t think so.

It will be interesting to see if there is any attempt to strip the provision out of the bill. It would be a test of how much loyalty Trump still commands in the Senate, since most of the senators seem to have decided this is not a hill they want to die on. I’m betting Fort Hood will be Fort Benavidez before you know it.

It gets worse. Senate Republicans have failed to come up with a new relief package, and it’s hugely unlikely they will have one before the end of this month. Politico:

Amid a series of crises — with 30 million Americans unemployed and coronavirus cases spiking nationally — White House officials and Senate GOP leaders couldn’t even come to an agreement among themselves on a starting point for a new relief package, let alone begin bipartisan talks with Democrats.

They clashed over a payroll tax cut, more money for testing, unemployment insurance benefits and a raft of other measures to address the unprecedented economic slowdown. The planned unveiling of a new $1 trillion bill got delayed and delayed again. With Election Day only 103 days away, this is the last thing an embattled president and Senate majority needed to happen.

Republicans acknowledged the bickering, even as they tried to downplay the episode. … But privately, GOP lawmakers were flabbergasted that they’ll likely have to wait until next week to unveil even an initial proposal.

What’s worse for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — the key players in this drama — was they were supposed to be ready for this moment.

The Senate was coming off a two-week recess, during which time GOP leaders, committee chairs and White House officials privately floated proposals to each other outlining what they wanted for certain elements of their proposal. Republicans and the White House were eager to produce a joint plan that would give them a strong negotiating position heading into a showdown with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

But the White House rejected Senate GOP demands for tens of billions of new spending to beef-up coronavirus testing at the state level, and then “zeroed out” requests for more Pentagon and global health money. The White House also pushed for pet projects including $250 million for renovating the FBI building.

If you are unfamiliar with Trump’s thing about the FBI building, there’s some background here. Basically, awhile back Trump killed plans to build a new FBI building elsewhere and sell the old building to a commercial developer — who might build something that would compete with Trump’s Washington hotel. Now he wants to build a new FBI building that looks like Trump Tower.

About the only thing the White House and Senate Republicans agree on is that they want to cut back unemployment benefits. Charles Pierce:

It’s hard to determine who hung whom most firmly out to dry. The administration*, in the persons of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, were not ready to negotiate with Republican senators, let along any Democrats. One of their signature demands, a payroll tax cut, went up in flames on Thursday. Meanwhile, desperate to hang on to their majority, Republican senators scrambled to put together a package that at least didn’t look like it was drawn up in the offices of Scrooge & Marley. …

… It appears that the realization is dawning on many Republican legislators that they have signed on aboard the Pequod and that the white whale is lining up the ship for the coup de grace. The realization also is dawning on them that the president* would sell them all for parts if it would make him a buck. Meanwhile, the list of serious issues with which our national government no longer seems capable of coping is getting longer by the hour.

And it’s going to get worse. There is no way it won’t get worse.

Stuff to Read:

It’s Bleak’: Trump’s Great American Comeback Is a Dumpster Fire by Asawin Suebsaeng at Daily Beast.

This is how democracy dies at Business Insider.