Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Friday called President Donald Trump's deal with Democrats this week over the debt ceiling "very smart," saying it was a "tactical move" to generate momentum for his administration.
Trump surprised Capitol Hill Republicans this week when he struck a bargain with Democratic leaders for a short-term debt ceiling hike tied to Hurricane Harvey relief, which critics say gives Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) too much leverage in future spending discussions.
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"This is a one-time deal. For the president, it's a very smart deal," Gingrich said on "Fox & Friends." "It gets momentum the first week back. It changes the tone. It gets the money to Houston, and it postpones the big fight over the debt ceiling for 90 days. And I think the president's attitude is, who knows what's going to happen over 90 days?"
GOP leaders wanted a longer deal on the debt limit, but Trump took the three-month proposal pitched by the Democrats.
While Gingrich said he might feel "irritated" if he were current House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), he added he would have struck the deal if in Trump's shoes.
"I think his feeling was we got to get some movement in Washington. We spent eight months and we didn't get big things done," Gingrich said. "I want to cut a deal with somebody … I'm going to get the money to Houston and to do that, I've got to get the debt ceiling taken care of, and he cut a 90-day deal."
Gingrich said Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) understood the long game was about the Trump administration's ambitious tax reform hopes.
"I think if [the American people] have more money in their pocket by Christmas, if they see more economic growth, if they see more job creation, then this will have been a successful year. It comes down to one gigantic bill," he said. "And I doubt very much if he's going to have Schumer and Pelosi helping him pass the tax cut."