I’d like to believe he chose all caps in his tweet this morning to capture his exasperation that those gutless mooks in the House were *still* begging him as of yesterday to decide for them whether they should vote for an immigration bill that’s dead on arrival in the Senate. No policy consequences, a free opportunity to pander to key constituencies, and somehow they’re paralyzed. I doubt even one percent of the public is paying attention to it but it’s quietly been one of the most pathetic performances by House Republicans, particularly the conservatives, of Trump’s presidency.
Maybe POTUS thinks so too and felt he needed to communicate his contempt somehow. When you can’t call your own team “gutless mooks” for begging you to tweet your opinion before they vote, you can convey your contempt by finally giving them what they want as LOUDLY as possible.
They wanted a tweet? They got one:
HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE. PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS & SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME. WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2018
That’s all conservatives were waiting for. They feared that voting for a bill that had a DREAM amnesty in it would piss off enough righties in their home districts to threaten their seats, if not this year than in the 2020 primaries. The only thing that can neutralize populist anger is the will of populist Zeus. Today’s tweet arrived like a thunderbolt from Mt. Olympus. The go-nowhere compromise bill shall pass.
But wait. The drama’s not over. It’s never over.
House Republicans have also been preparing a much narrower alternative immigration bill that would address just the issue of child separation. No DREAM amnesty in that one, no E-Verify, no wall or limits on chain migration. Just a simple bill providing that families could stay together but must remain in detention pending resolution of their asylum claims. It was going to be the House’s Plan B for if/when the larger compromise bill failed. After all, moderate Republicans would still need something to show voters back home that they’re anti-Trump on immigration; voting to end child separation would be one small way of doing it. And even if the larger compromise bill passed, it might still be worth voting on and passing the narrow bill separately, knowing that the larger bill would be DOA in the Senate. *Maybe* McConnell would be able to muster 60 votes for the narrow bill on child separation with the help of red-state Democrats like Joe Manchin. Probably not, but even if the narrow bill failed, Republicans would be able to say that Democrats had killed legislation that would have reunited immigrant families. Not a bad talking point.
Trump appears to have rescued the larger bill by giving House conservatives the green light to vote for it, per the all-caps tweet above. But what about the narrow bill? Are they still going to try to pass that one too?
No one knows. The winds in the Oval Office change too quickly:
YIKES: I’m told by multiple House sources that Trump began waffling last night on what he’s willing to sign. “It seems he’s hearing from many different people which has clouded things,” one senior GOP aide told me. https://t.co/g53C8zrlMT
— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) June 27, 2018
To recap: Leadership and WH leg staff expected to file narrow family separations bill last night. Charge was led in private by Cathy McMorris Rogers beginning last wk. But this morning, the day before they hope to vote on it, leaders are still unclear as to what Trump will back.
— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) June 27, 2018
Trump is all-in on the compromise bill. But the bill on child separation? Maybe he’ll back it, maybe he won’t. It would be really weird if he didn’t since he’s spent the past two weeks insisting that “Congress must fix!” the child-separation problem by legislation, and now here they are trying to do it — and he’s undecided. Perhaps we’ll have another all-caps tweet this afternoon as the presidential weathervane turns.
Exit question: Why *wouldn’t* he sign a standalone bill on child separation? Is he worried that it might pass and then he couldn’t change his mind yet again by reinstituting the policy at the border?
Update: Sweet fancy moses. The compromise bill backed this morning by POTUS in his tweet has been demolished.
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 27, 2018
What the hell happened? House conservatives begged him for days to give them some cover by publicly backing the bill, and he finally did it — whereupon the caucus turned around and roundly humiliated him in the floor vote. Did conservatives get annoyed at him for his dithering and decide to use this as an opportunity to rebuke him?
This is a hard blow to centrists. Granted, they finally got their chance to vote for a bill with a DREAM amnesty in it, but they have less to show for it now than they would have if the bill had passed. This is low-key one of the biggest House fiascos of Trump’s presidency.