Since the Democrats’ surprise defeat on Nov. 8, the party’s base has watched nervously for any hints of compromise with President-elect Donald Trump. The nervousness reached a high after Trump and incoming political adviser Steve Bannon mulled a $1 trillion infrastructure package. Not only did incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) give the idea some tentative praise — Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the party’s leading progressive voices, did the same.
Those worries faded after the infrastructure proposal (which no one has seen) was described as a package of tax breaks, and Democrats bolted. Nonetheless, as he addresses the Senate on Tuesday, the first day of the new Congress, Schumer is being watched for clues as to whether Democrats will give political openings to Trump. In excerpts sent to reporters from Schumer’s office, the minority leader frames the next two years with the question of whether Trump can deliver for “working people, to whom he promised so much,” or whether he will govern from the right.
“Too many of his Cabinet picks support the same, hard-right, doctrinaire positions that many in the Republican Party have held for years — policies that the American people have repeatedly rejected,” Schumer says. “If Donald Trump lets the hard-right members of Congress and his Cabinet run the show … if he adopts their timeworn policies — which represent the elites, special interests and corporate America, not the working man and woman — his presidency will not succeed.”
“He agrees with Republicans that we should put more money in the pockets of middle-class American families by cutting their taxes, and he has proposed working with Republicans to create jobs and to encourage long-term economic stability with a massive domestic spending bill, the details of which members of Congress and the American people are increasingly eager to see,” McConnell said then. “After a long and rough campaign season, it is encouraging for many Americans to see that the two parties in Washington are in broad agreement about something so important to their daily lives.”
Weeks later, McConnell and all but three other Republican senators voted against the 2009 stimulus package, which had been amended in the hopes of winning as many as 20 Republican votes.