For Trump, Deals, Funding and Secrecy Are All He Needs



A laser-focused on 2020, President Trump on Thursday signed into law a budget omnibus spending plan that loosened ethics rules on campaign donations and worked to avoid state criminal charges for Republican state officials.

Mr. Trump, a real estate mogul, businessman and reality television star, spent the past two years with limited legislative success even in Congress. There, he faced a divided Congress and more complicated Republican policy battles. But here, he has Republican majorities in both houses, and a business-friendly legislature.

In the past week, he made announcements about new tariffs on aluminum and steel, as well as withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. To further aid his agenda, Mr. Trump on Thursday nominated Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce, Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency and Ann C. Veneman for Secretary of Agriculture.

“I’ve been very specific on what we’re trying to do,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re trying to do things that nobody in the history of our country has been able to do.”

Republicans have relied on bipartisan cooperation to clear bills out of Congress in the past, but this Congress has been the most partisan in decades, leaving its predecessors in the dust. Because Mr. Trump often moves quickly, lawmakers on Capitol Hill in the near future will almost certainly face their own tax overhaul, a measure that is unlikely to be rushed.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump specifically looked to pass some business-friendly legislation through the Michigan Legislature, which just elected a Republican governor. The Legislature endorsed as a priority a measure that would ensure a constitutional right to vote and put in place hurdles to gerrymandering and a system for independent redistricting.

On the Sunday morning talk shows, some Republicans criticized Mr. Trump for trying to turn up the heat on state officials as he begins preparing for 2020. But Mr. Trump sees it as a way to tap into the power of the state Republican Party. Mr. Trump said that a “massive” vote for Republicans in the Michigan Legislature could prove beneficial in the next presidential election.

“The next person that runs for president, that person’s going to run for Michigan,” Mr. Trump said. “Because they’re going to have to do great.”

Mr. Trump started a more than three-week run in Michigan in 2012, with stops in Saginaw, Wayne and Flint, but did not hold any events in the state until 2016.

Congress this week also passed the first budget of the Trump era, a $1.3 trillion bill that funds the government through Sept. 30, the end of the 2018 fiscal year. That was a lower-key measure than usual because it was mostly a deal struck with Democrat leaders in the Senate.

At the White House signing ceremony, Mr. Trump was flanked by Republican and Democratic politicians from the state of Michigan, including Republican senators Lisa Murkowski and Gary Peters and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

“The people of Michigan elected us to work together to get the job done,” Ms. Stabenow said. “And we’re doing just that.”

The budget bill only increased funding for domestic programs, and provides more than $23 billion for the border wall with Mexico, as well as money for disaster relief for California.

It also hikes campaign donations, which Republicans say will be less likely to be “dirty.” State campaigns will be able to take contributions from unlimited groups. Democrats say that will be easier for Republican candidates to get money.

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