Once Harry Reid retires at the end of the lame-duck session, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York will become the top Democratic senator in Congress. On Fox News Sunday, Schumer appeared to have a (slightly) more optimistic vision of working with President-elect Donald Trump than Reid.
Schumer noted that not all of Trump’s campaign promises were from the Republican playbook. Like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and other progressives, he held open the possibility of teaming up with Trump to push bipartisan legislation on infrastructure and tax reform.
“I think blue-collar America voted for Donald Trump more on Democratic issues than on Republican issues,” said Schumer. “We will work with him on those issues.”
On Twitter, Trump praised the senator. “I have always had a good relationship with Chuck Schumer. He is far smarter than Harry R and has the ability to get things done. Good news!”
On conservative issues like healthcare and financial regulations, however, Schumer was less enthusiastic.
“ObamaCare, he won’t be able to do it,” Schumer said. “Forget about repealing or modifying Dodd-Frank.”
To be effective, Trump will have to work across the aisle, even though Republicans hold majorities in both houses of Congress. Controversial bills – say, for the Wall – will not necessarily get the 60 necessary votes from the Senate without some compromise. And apart from bills that further liberal interests, don’t expect Democrats to be in a compromising mood come January. Most of them are digging in for the fight of their lives.
At the same time, this could be the final genius of Trump’s strategy. Democrats have been appalled by his proposals and shocked by his first cabinet appointments. Trump can use this to his advantage, and he’s already telegraphed his intention to do so. Start with the most extreme proposal…and then start walking your way back. And unlike most politicians, Trump has a support base that fully expects him to do some serious negotiating.
It doesn’t feel like it right now, but Democrats may be surprised over the next four years by Trump’s willingness to work with them. On the flipside, Republicans may realize that even though they captured the House and Senate…only Trump captured the White House.
Things are about to get interesting.