Er … wanna bet? Nancy Pelosi might have gained control over Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, but she doesn’t control the Senate floor. Or does she? Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told reporters this morning that Republicans would not bring the DREAM Act to the floor despite Pelosi’s demands for a DACA resolution on Democrats’ terms:
Shortly after Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke with Trump Thursday morning about moving the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would lift the threat of deportation from people who came to the country illegally as children, commonly known as “Dreamers,” Cornyn said the legislation would not come to the floor in its current form.
“The minority leader doesn’t set the Senate schedule and the DREAM Act — we’re not going to vote on the DREAM Act as a stand-alone,” Cornyn told reporters.
Let that sink in on the day that Pelosi took control of Trump’s Twitter feed, and Chuck Schumer cut a deal with Trump to end the debt ceiling. Not getting too many warm fuzzies, right? Well, perhaps the pragmatic viewpoint will help:
“Can you imagine that when President Obama couldn’t pass the DREAM Act through Congress and did this through executive action, that now a Republican majority would take it up and pass that same legislation without border security and enforcement provisions?” Cornyn said.
“I just think it would be a mistake,” he added.
Ya think? Of course it would be a mistake, but it’s not clear that Trump sees it that way. He doesn’t want to end DACA unless he’s forced to do so, and for good reasons; at the heart of it, deporting schoolchildren who’ve lived most of their lives here would make for terrible optics. Trump’s taking the libertarian-conservative point of view here, which is that the objectionable part of DACA is its extra-legality and subversion of the constitutional boundaries of authority. His populist base would erupt, though, if they get nothing for giving up DACA through the DREAM Act.
That hasn’t stopped Pelosi from trying — and she’s claiming some success, as HuffPost’s Elise Foley reported earlier today:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Donald Trump told her on two occasions that he supports and would sign a bill to give legal status to young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
“We made it very clear in the course of the conversation that the priority was to pass the Dream Act,” Pelosi said at a press briefing. “Obviously it has to be bipartisan. The president supports that, he would sign it. But we have to get it passed.” …
Trump has said he wants to work with Congress, including Democrats, to pass a bill that addresses DACA recipients before that time. He called Pelosi earlier Thursday and made the comment about the Dream Act then, as well as in a meeting on Wednesday, according to Pelosi.
That certainly sounds like Pelosi and Schumer are close to controlling the White House agenda, at the very least, when it comes to DACA. This leaves Republicans in a tougher position to negotiate, but not an impossible one. They need to find some wins in exchange for a DACA substitute, I write at The Week today, but DREAM isn’t the only option:
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) suggested a compromise in adding a form of DACA to the RAISE Act currently under consideration. RAISE has come under fire for reducing legal immigration levels, but also proposes to end chain migration and removes the incentives for future illegal entry. It’s a step in the right direction for engagement, but highly unlikely to succeed. Progressives will likely balk at the immigration caps, and conservatives at the legalization of the so-called DREAMers.
The most likely, or perhaps least unlikely, approach comes from Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.). His BRIDGE Act proposed to put DACA into statute for a three-year period while prohibiting its use for a path to citizenship. That, Coffman argues, would give Congress enough time to work out a comprehensive trade on immigration reform. After Trump’s big Tuesday reveal, Coffman announced an effort to get a discharge petition for the sidelined bill to get a floor vote. That would, at the very least, spare everyone the spectacle of deporting students at the end of Trump’s six-month lead time.
That has the greatest chance of success for the same reason the issue still exists. It allows Congress to kick the can down the road again.
That’s probably the best conservatives can hope for in the new Trump-Pelosi-Schumer era.