A headline for The Hill on Monday read, “Trump feels like he’s having a good month despite impeachment.”
That’s because, in any other political environment, he is. While the House Judiciary Committee was voting in favor of impeaching him and setting up a full House vote last week, the president managed to reach major deals on trade, defense, space exploration, family matters, and much more.
.@KellyannePolls is spot on:— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) December 15, 2019
"This is one of the most successful weeks of the @realDonaldTrump presidency."
? China trade deal
? National Defense Authorization Act
? Paid family leavepic.twitter.com/WXlPWZIMYV
"This was one of the most successful weeks of the Trump presidency," White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway declared on Fox News last week.
Trump helped secure a deal with Democrats on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an updated version of NAFTA. It, in part, mandates that more motor vehicle parts be made in North America. For instance, in order to qualify for zero tariffs, 75 percent of a car or truck must have been manufactured in the U.S., Mexico, or Canada. And employees working on those vehicles must now earn at least $16 an hour.
Then over the weekend, the administration announced they had reached "Phase One" of a trade deal with China. Then came the third consecutive military pay raise with the victorious House vote on NDAA, an over- $700 billion defense bill. Tied into the bill was a provision on paid family leave, giving 12 weeks of paid leave to federal employees for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child, and the establishment of the Space Force as a separate military branch within the Air Force. It also still retains some funds for the border wall.
“Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Congress — don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!”
Critics shot back to note that Democrats agreed to the Space Force in order to get paid family leave into the legislation. But it took months even to get them to the table. As Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) noted on the House floor earlier this month, the Democrats held the NDAA hostage while they held "fantasy" impeachment hearings.
"Ensuring their ability to do so is not a matter for partisan tactics or delay," Cheney said. "Protecting our men and women on the front lines should be Congress’s first priority. Unfortunately, our men and women in uniform are once again being held hostage in order for the Democrats to chase an impeachment fantasy."
In addition, first daughter and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump has personally made paid family leave a major priority these past few years. So to suggest the administration didn't care or didn't have a hand in that particular accomplishment is unfair.
These likely won't be the last White House successes we see before Christmas. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled plans to hold a vote on 13 more of Trump's judicial nominees as soon as Wednesday. In the past three years, they've confirmed an impressive 174 judges, including 50 federal appeals court judges and, as we know, two Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
"Who knows what he'll do tomorrow," Conway said of President Trump.
The Democrats' plans tomorrow are a bit more predictable. Conway noted that at least half of Democrats in the House had already wanted to impeach Trump even weeks before the whistleblower complaint about his phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky came out.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have been happy to announce the new USMCA deal last week, but it came just an hour after giving a press conference on why the president needs to be impeached. And months after Trump had introduced the measure and dragging her feet on ratification. And it appears likely that the full House will be voting to impeach, considering as more and more vulnerable Democrats have come out as "yeses."
"This is going to cost them," she predicted, referring to the November elections.
The Democrats' constituents, Conway said, are going to ask, "what have you done for me lately?"
"And all they'll be able to say is, 'I impeached the president.'"