Cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits used to be the "third rail" of U.S. politics — touch it and you get burned — but "the new third rail in Republican politics is criticizing [President] Trump," Washington Examiner correspondent David Drucker writes at Vanity Fair. Off the record, however, "Republicans believe Trump is bungling an opportunity to capitalize on his unrivaled street cred with the conservative grassroots to create the political space for the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to overhaul a significant portion of the nation's outdated — horrible, a joke, the president might say — immigration laws."
The inability or unwillingness of Trump, "perhaps the most hardline anti-immigration voice in a generation" and a self-professed dealmaking maven, to make a concerted push for his party to constrict America's immigration laws is "one of the more curious aspects" of Trump's presidency, Drucker writes. And unless Trump "radically" changes his approach to "overcome the complete lack of trust on Capitol Hill" he has engendered, that won't change, he adds:
With the proper assurances, Trump could soothe his base, bring Fox News in line, and give conservative lawmakers cover to pass a bill. But congressional Republicans have no faith that Trump won't betray them if they stick their necks out for him. Who's to say they won't deliver him a bill that protects the Dreamers — one of Trump's four pillars — only to have the president complain afterward that he never really wanted to sign a bill with an "amnesty" provision but was forced into it by those wimpy Republicans in Congress? ... "The House guys are tired of getting burned," said a Republican who has advised both moderate and conservative members on immigration. "No one can ever be sure what his priority is going to be the next day." [Vanity Fair]
The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a broad immigration overhaul bill crafted by House Republican leaders. It is expected to fail, attracting no Democratic votes and scant support from Republican immigration hardliners. The vote on the so-called compromise bill was postponed last week after House leaders determined they didn't have the votes and a more conservative bill failed. "What we have here is the seeds of consensus that will be gotten to, hopefully now but if not, later," House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Tuesday. HuffPost said that when it "asked a senior GOP aide for a prediction on how many Republicans would vote for the 'compromise' legislation, the aide simply replied with a GIF of a dumpster fire."
The bill would authorize $25 billion for President Trump's Mexico border wall, give young immigrant DREAMers a narrow path to citizenship, restrict legal immigration, and bar the federal government from separating migrant families. House GOP leaders were also considering changes to win the support of hardliners. At the same time, a senior GOP aide told HuffPost, "ultimately, it's a win for leadership because the whole goal of this immigration exercise was to prevent the discharge petition," a parliamentary vehicle GOP moderates and Democrats had used to try to force a vote on a bipartisan immigration bill. Peter Weber
The House is a day away from voting on a Republican immigration package that experts say is unlikely to pass, and stands no chance at all in the Senate. Still, in an attempt to garner conservative support for the so-called "compromise" bill, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) filed a 116-page amendment with the Rules Committee on Monday night that would expand the E-verify program to mandate that all new employees in the country are cleared as legally eligible to work, as well as create a new visa program for farm and food-processing foreign workers, Politico reports.
President Trump has wavered on the bill, announcing last week that the GOP is "wasting their time" with immigration legislation, although the White House officially backs the efforts. Speaking on CNN on Tuesday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said that he believes the compromise bill can pass, "but the president needs to lean into this I think. A lot of members of my party want to hear from the president, they want to hear this is something he supports." Jeva Lange
President Trump said Friday that "Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration" until enough GOP senators are elected to override a potential Democratic filibuster. "Even if we get 100 percent Republican votes in the Senate, we need 10 Democrat votes to get a much-needed immigration bill," Trump said in a tweet, vowing that if more Republicans get elected, "we will pass the finest, fairest, and most comprehensive immigration bills anywhere in the world."
Elect more Republicans in November and we will pass the finest, fairest and most comprehensive Immigration Bills anywhere in the world. Right now we have the dumbest and the worst. Dems are doing nothing but Obstructing. Remember their motto, RESIST! Ours is PRODUCE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2018
Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2018
Although the Republican Party has control over both chambers of Congress, Trump insisted that "we can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!" On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pushed back a compromise immigration bill vote because leadership felt they did not have the 218 votes needed to pass the measure; there are 235 Republicans in the House. Jeva Lange
President Trump met behind closed doors with House Republicans at the Capitol on Tuesday night, and according to attendees, he urged Republicans to send him an immigration bill that funded his border wall, dealt with the legal status of DREAMers, and curbed the separation of children from parents happening under his new "zero tolerance" policy. But attendees said they were not sure which of two rival House GOP bills Trump endorsed, a hardline bill or a "compromise" one put together by House Republican leaders.
"It did not move the needle at all," one top GOP lawmaker told Politico. "He made comments like 'I'm behind it 1,000 percent,' but what is 'it'?" The House is set to vote on both bills this week. Currently, neither bill has enough votes to pass in the House, and both would be expected to die in the Senate.
Trump also recounted his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, told the House Republicans that his tariffs are "gonna work out fine. ... Trade isn't tricky," and obliquely addressed the child-separation policy that has Republicans rattled. He told the House GOP caucus that his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump told him the images of children in cages and crying while being separated from their parents looked terrible and asked him, "Can we do anything to stop this?" one lawmaker recounted to The Washington Post. Another recalled that Trump said, "We have to take care of these separations." Lawmakers from both parties and outside analysts say Trump could end the family separation with the stroke of a pen. Peter Weber
President Trump will meet with Republican House leaders on Tuesday ahead of a planned floor vote on two immigration bills, CNN reports. The White House officially supports both proposals: A more conservative bill written by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R), which is expected to fall far short of passing, and a compromise bill that would give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients a path to citizenship and put $25 billion toward border security and the border wall.
Trump, though, has wavered on the compromise bill that his staff helped negotiate. "Just the slip of the tongue by the president and you can blow this whole thing up," said one Republican aide. Politico writes that "in reality" Trump will arrive at the immigration meeting and "get an earful about the family-separation issue." Jeva Lange
On Wednesday night, Sen. Susan Collins' (R-Maine) bipartisan "Common Sense Caucus" released its immigration proposal, which offers some of what President Trump has demanded but not everything, adding another option to a looming floor fight in the Senate on Thursday. The Immigration Security and Opportunity Act, with lead sponsors Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Angus King (I-Maine), would offer a 10-year path to citizenship for DREAMers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — plus $25 billion over a decade for border security, and curb family-based immigration. It does not end the visa lottery program, as Trump wants, or deliver the $25 billion immediately.
Trump favors a bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and he has informally threatened to veto a bipartisan bill that would just tackle border security and DREAMers. Senators will likely vote on all three proposals, plus a "sanctuary cities" crackdown measure from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), on Thursday. The Grassley bill, vehemently opposed by Democrats, is not expected to get 60 votes, and Trump's opposition has dangerously imperiled the narrow DREAMer-focused bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).
A senior White House official told The Washington Post on Wednesday night that the administration is "doing everything in our power" to block the Rounds-Angus bill, which the official called a "giant amnesty." Sen. Linsdey Graham (R-S.C.), a sponsor of that bill, shrugged off the veto threat. "Everything's a negotiation. We're a separate branch," Flake said, and Trump "can veto it, or he can sign it, but we've got to pass it." Peter Weber
President Trump has gone from scrapping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program to promising, on camera, to sign any "bill of love" to protect DACA recipients that Congress sends him to, last weekend, accusing Democrats of not being serious about negotiating a bipartisan DACA replacement. Now, a senior administration official tells Axios that Trump "will veto any bill that doesn't advance his common-sense immigration reforms," severely undermining the immigration legislation being forged in the Senate this week.
One of the proposals before the Senate does roughly match the four pillars Trump wants to see in an immigration bill, but the three parts not dealing with DACA focus on long-term curtailing of legal immigration and funding Trump's border wall. "There's almost zero chance the Senate approves a bill Trump will like," Axios notes. The senior White House official, who may or may not be Stephen Miller, told Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan that Democrats who oppose Trump's approach will "be walking into a political suicide march," but Democrats don't seem to be too concerned.
"Their spin is laughably bad," a Senate Democratic official tells Axios. Trump "ended the [DACA] program. He would be deporting them. Who in their right mind would blame Democrats?" Trump is "using DREAMers as leverage to achieve immigration policies that are broadly unpopular," the Democrat added. Polls show broad support for giving DREAMers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — legal status or citizenship. Two federal judges have ordered the Trump administration to continue the DACA program, at least temporarily, making Trump's March 5 deadline more or less moot. Peter Weber