The government led by the author of “The Art of the Deal” is once again demonstrating its complete lack of negotiating skills. The latest case in point: allegations that a sudden Labor Department push to address the guest-worker visa shortage in Maine and Alaska is linked to crucial votes on the draconian Senate health care bill held by Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.

Collins, Murkowski and a bipartisan group of 30 other senators have been seeking extra H-2B visas for temporary seasonal workers for months, but there was little progress until last week.

First, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it expected to begin issuing the desperately needed visas in late July. Then, according to the nonprofit news organization ProPublica, senior Trump administration political appointees ordered federal officials to immediately draft a rule increasing the number of visas issued to seasonal foreign workers for Maine innkeepers and Alaska fisheries.

Several sources, who weren’t named, told ProPublica that “while no one in political leadership invoked the health care bill specifically … the sudden urgency and apparent desire to tailor the rule to specific states has drawn concern.” Even industry groups resisted the expedited rule: “It’s not appropriate to pick and choose (which state or industry) should be winners or losers,” said Laurie Flanagan of the H-2B Workforce Coalition.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican leaders are scrambling to recast the Better Care Reconciliation Act in a less obviously punitive light. Good luck with that, given the damning findings in nearly back-to-back Congressional Budget Office reports: the first, on Tuesday, which showed that an estimated 22 million people would lose their health insurance under the BCRA, and the second, released Thursday, which sharply contradicted President Trump’s declaration that Medicaid spending would actually rise if the bill passes.

And good luck with the deal making, if, in fact, it’s taking place: A spokeswoman for Collins said the senator’s office has not been approached about any quid pro quo involving the health care bill and the additional visas.

Collins meant business when she announced Monday that she would vote to stop the bill from coming forward for debate. Her unequivocal statement forced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay the vote that he’d planned for this week – and he didn’t get where he is by misjudging whether his colleagues mean what they say.

Certainly, Maine’s senior senator is no supporter of the Affordable Care Act. She’s also made clear, however, that she won’t stand for efforts to replace the ACA with a package that would hurt the thousands of poor, elderly and disabled Mainers now covered by Medicaid. Murkowski also has issues with the Medicaid cuts, though the Alaska senator has remained noncommittal on the Senate health care legislation. Both of them have raised serious concerns that deserve in-depth answers, not bush league horse trading.

Meanwhile, the tourist season in Maine is well underway, and with no additional visas expected for another month, many hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses will be critically shorthanded for much of the summer.