I’m pretty sure I remember somebody saying that the DACA bill from the Senate will be done this week. Of course, within hours of the initial debate beginning, with various proposals being aired, the media was reporting that the process had already stalled. Still, there’s a little time left to get the job done and I’m sure our nation’s finest legislators will find a way to muddle through.
But according to an exclusive from Axios last night, it all may be for nothing. Supposedly, the President has put the word out that if the bill doesn’t include the priorities he set forth, he’ll break out the veto pen.
A senior administration official said Tuesday night that President Trump “will veto any bill that doesn’t advance his common-sense immigration reforms” — a hardening of the White House bargaining position as the Senate begins an epic debate.
Why it matters: With moderate, bipartisan senators looking to restore protections for “Dreamers,” who came to the U.S. as children, Trump is laying down a marker: He won’t approve the squishy bill that will most likely come out of the Senate.
Reality check: There’s almost zero chance the Senate approves a bill Trump will like.
Trump wants long-term cuts to legal immigration.
The other side … A Senate Democratic official tells us: “Their spin is laughably bad. He ended the [DACA] program. He would be deporting them. Who in their right mind would blame Democrats?”
Is this bluster, a not terribly subtle effort to move the debate forward, or would he seriously do it? My initial reaction was to think that it’s a bluff. If there’s one thing we know this president really likes it’s a good signing ceremony. Any major legislative achievement he can pull off with this fractured Congress is one more talking point he can break out at the next rally. And he’s already established a reputation for being willing to sign anything that they put on his desk.
But upon reflection, I’m not so sure that’s the case here. After all, we’re talking about immigration reform. It was one of his biggest platform planks on the campaign trail and provided some of his best applause lines. Plus, he’s pretty sure that he’s found the one issue where the Democrats will put up money for the wall in exchange for something they want. The Wall. Few things drive this president more than his desire to make good on that promise and erect a massive edifice in the desert to point to in every debate to come. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s absolutely right about it, too.
If the Senate can’t come up with a bill that delivers not only the wall but at least a few of his other priorities, he might just decide to take the heat for it and veto the bill. And as I’ve written here repeatedly, he probably should do that. This is a rare moment where Chuck Schumer may be able to bring most of his herd to the table and agree to some things that conservatives (and Trump himself) actually want. This moment isn’t going to last forever. The closer we get to the midterms the less likely the Democrats will be to relent and hand the President anything that remotely resembles a win. Taking a weak DACA deal now would likely end any future discussions of significant reform.
Plus, we should keep in mind that Trump has already sent out the word that this will be DACA’s “last chance.” (Weekly Standard)
President Trump drew a line in the sand on immigration reform in a Tuesday morning tweet, telling Congress that the freewheeling negotiations that began Monday are “our last chance” to grant legal status to nearly 2 million people brought to America illegally as children.
Negotiations on DACA have begun. Republicans want to make a deal and Democrats say they want to make a deal. Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle. This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2018
Since we’re talking about Washington politics, there’s really no such thing as unbreakable line in the sand. But on this issue? I think Trump is taking a stand and he’ll go ahead and pull out the veto pen if Congress delivers some weak tea to his desk.