Forget the Pope. Donald Trump Is Coming to the Hill

Richard Shiro / AP

A hugely in­flu­en­tial lead­er is com­ing to Wash­ing­ton to give the coun­try a ser­mon about its fu­ture. Two weeks later, Pope Fran­cis will be here too.

Don­ald Trump, per­haps the cur­rent spir­itu­al head of the Re­pub­lic­an Party, will hit Cap­it­ol Hill on Wed­nes­day for a rally op­pos­ing the Ir­an nuc­le­ar deal, which is cur­rently be­ing de­bated in both cham­bers of Con­gress. Trump will be joined by ra­dio per­son­al­ity Glenn Beck, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Pal­in, and one of his rivals for the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion, Sen. Ted Cruz, in ad­di­tion­ to oth­er con­ser­vat­ive lead­ers.

Trump’s speech comes as Con­gress be­gins de­bate on a meas­ure to dis­ap­prove of Pres­id­ent Obama’s deal with Ir­an—a res­ol­u­tion which already lacks suf­fi­cient sup­port in the Sen­ate, and likely in the House, to with­stand a cer­tain pres­id­en­tial veto. Al­though a ma­jor­ity of mem­bers in both cham­bers sup­port the dis­ap­prov­al meas­ure, just 41 are needed to fili­buster a fi­nal vote on the meas­ure in the Sen­ate—votes that sup­port­ers se­cured Tues­day morn­ing—while even few­er, just 34 in the Sen­ate and 145 in the House, are needed to up­hold a veto.

For Trump, Wed­nes­day marks his greatest for­ay yet in­to con­gres­sion­al polit­ics, and comes just as Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell will be­gin a talk­a­thon on the Sen­ate floor in which mem­bers will be asked to re­main in their seats and listen to their col­leagues de­bate the meas­ure.

But it’s un­clear wheth­er Trump will meet with mem­bers, aside per­haps from Cruz, while in Wash­ing­ton on Wed­nes­day. A spokes­wo­man for Trump’s cam­paign de­clined to com­ment for this story and Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, who is serving as a con­sult­ant for Trump’s cam­paign on im­mig­ra­tion, would not say Tues­day wheth­er he planned to meet with the can­did­ate dur­ing his Cap­it­ol vis­it.

Sev­er­al Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors said they would be too busy with the Ir­an de­bate to at­tend Trump’s speech Wed­nes­day, but Sen. Dav­id Per­due said he would make an ef­fort to be there. The Geor­gia fresh­man said that he has not en­dorsed in the pres­id­en­tial race—and is sup­port­ive of “any Re­pub­lic­an cam­paign”—but that he and Trump’s camps have been in talks to try to sched­ule time for the two to speak.

“Ac­tu­ally, we’re try­ing to talk to­night,” Per­due said Tues­day. “About the cam­paign, about what I hope to in­ter­ject in­to the pres­id­en­tial dia­logue—I’ve had a couple of op­por­tun­it­ies at the na­tion­al level to do that—about our debt, the eco­nomy, how to get people work­ing again, things that a lot of can­did­ates are not talk­ing about right now. And to­mor­row we’re go­ing to be talk­ing about the Ir­an deal. So I’m de­lighted that those people are go­ing to be here to­mor­row.”

Wed­nes­day could be a big day for Cruz, who is head­lining the rally and per­son­ally in­vited Trump to speak, des­pite their op­pos­ing cam­paigns for the pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion. The in­vite—the only one Cruz ex­ten­ded per­son­ally to any speak­er at Wed­nes­day’s rally, ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post—rep­res­ents an­oth­er step for the Texas Re­pub­lic­an in for­ging an al­li­ance with the cur­rent front-run­ner in the hopes of ab­sorb­ing his sup­port­ers if (“when,” Cruz’s team would say) the real es­tate mag­nate exits the pres­id­en­tial race.

Trump’s speech on Ir­an will put him on the same page and just a few yards from some of his oth­er op­pon­ents for the pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion, Sens. Rand Paul and Lind­sey Gra­ham. Gra­ham, a hawk on de­fense is­sues, has feuded with Trump for weeks.

Asked about Trump’s vis­it on Tues­day, Sen. John Mc­Cain, Gra­ham’s highest-pro­file sup­port­er and friend, grim­aced. “Whatever he wants to do is fine with me. I know he has an in-depth know­ledge and back­ground on the is­sue.”

Asked wheth­er he was be­ing sar­cast­ic, Mc­Cain grinned: “Not at all.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec