Money Won’t Keep Congressional Republicans Loyal to Trump

I want to poke at Steve M.’s argument a little bit. He’s looking to refute the idea that congressional Republicans will have no use for President Trump in the aftermath of a successful effort to cut taxes. It’s an idea put forward by former George W. Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer in an essay at Politico.

…the tax cut bill is a trap. If Trump actually does sign it into law, he might as well be signing his political death warrant.

…The reason the tax cut bill is a danger to Trump is that it’s the one last thing keeping the bulk of his own party in line behind him.

…once Trump signs that bill, he faces his greatest danger: Republicans will finally have an achievement to run on as they seek reelection in 2018. Their donors and supporters will have a prize that eluded them through eight years of Obama…. Simply put, they won’t need the president anymore. After that, the investigative team assembled by special counsel Robert Mueller can do its worst. Mueller would actually be doing GOP leaders a favor.

To rebut this argument, Steve M. points to to outstanding fundraising numbers of the Republican National Committee (RNC) that has been fueled by tons of small donations solicited by President Trump. And, it’s true, this has given the RNC a big advantage over the DNC: “the RNC ha[s] raised $93.3 million with $47.1 million cash on hand while the DNC raised $46.3 million and ha[s] $6.8 million cash on hand.”

While the numbers are indisputably good, it’s not clear that any Republican president wouldn’t dramatically improve the RNC’s fundraising over what it was during the presidency of a Democrat. If we’re concerned about the midterm elections, we also want to know how the congressional fundraising arms are doing.

When we look at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), we see something a bit different.

The DCCC raised $8.9 million in September, bringing the committee’s third quarter fundraising total to $21.4 million, according to figures tweeted by the DCCC’s executive director Dan Sena.

That’s compared to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which raised $4.9 million in September and brought in $12.5 million in the third quarter, according to figures previously reported by McClatchy.

The NRCC ended September with $38.4 million cash on hand. The DCCC has yet to release its cash on hand figures. At the end of August, the NRCC had about $12 million more in its campaign account.

You can look at that two ways. On the one hand, it seems likely that the NRCC still has more cash on hand than the DCCC. On the other hand, the DCCC is currently raising a lot more money than the NRCC. If this continues for a few months, it’s likely that the DCCC will close the gap and actually open a cash on hand advantage.

Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina is in charge of fundraising for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and he recently informed his Senate colleagues that “donations have fallen off a cliff” ever since the failed vote to repeal Obamacare in early August. Sen. Tillis now has the additional problem that Steve Bannon is trying to lure away his top donors to fund insurgent primary challengers. Presumably, Bannon is doing this with the blessing of President Trump. In any case, it seems clear that the Senate’s incumbent Republicans at least feel that Trump is behind Bannon’s efforts, and that will inform how they feel about the president in the aftermath of a successful tax bill.

My point here is that Trump may be doing a fine job of filling the coffers of the RNC, but the same cannot be said of the NRCC and NRSC. And the latter two organizations are more relevant to judging how congressional Republicans feel about the president’s influence on their money situation.

It’s doubtful that they’ll see Trump as some invaluable cash spigot if they have to respond to serious impeachable offenses provided to them by Robert Mueller’s investigative team.

If they stay loyal, it will have more to do with their perceptions of how the base feels about the allegations than anything to do with funding.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.