Say what? Just a couple of weeks ago, Donald Trump went on national television to make an offer to trade a three-year extension of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs for $5.7 billion in border-wall funding. In an interview with the Daily Caller published today, Trump reversed course and said no concessions would be made on DACA until the Supreme Court took up the challenges to its constitutionality:
President Donald Trump cast doubt on speculation that he may be willing to offer up concessions on the DACA program in exchange for border wall funding in his ongoing dispute with Congress, in an exclusive Oval Office interview with The Daily Caller.
“I could see myself doing something for DACA but I want to find out what the Supreme Court is going to do first,” Trump said, noting that “it’s highly unlikely” that he would be willing to discuss the program during current negotiations over funding for a border wall.
“Cast doubt on speculation“? Trump explicitly offered this deal on January 19th, from the White House, on national television. “This is a common sense compromise both parties should embrace,” Trump said at the time. The transcript is on the official White House website, for Pete’s sake, and the video is easily accessible:
Furthermore, in order to build the trust and goodwill necessary to begin real immigration reform, there are two more elements to my plan.
Number one is three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients brought here unlawfully by their parents at a young age many years ago. This extension will give them access to work permits, Social Security numbers, and protection from deportation, most importantly.
Secondly, our proposal provides a three-year extension of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. This means that 300,000 immigrants whose protected status is facing expiration will now have three more years of certainty so that Congress can work on a larger immigration deal, which everybody wants — Republicans and Democrats. And our farmers and vineyards won’t be affected because lawful and regulated entry into our country will be easy and consistent.
That is our plan: border security, DACA, TPS, and many other things. Straightforward, fair, reasonable, and common sense, with lots of compromise.
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. All of that was true then, and it’s still true today, but now it’s been reduced to “speculation” that Trump might support a deal he flat-out put on the table himself. Did Trump decide that he’d taken too much flak from allies like Ann Coulter for making the offer?
This is why Republicans in Congress have been loathe to act without firm public commitments from Trump. Lawmakers from marginal districts won’t vote to support the White House without making sure it’s worth it. Trump’s mercurial temperament made bargaining nearly impossible before this; reneging on a public commitment like this might undermine any trust between Trump and Capitol Hill Republicans altogether. This is why Mike Pence got an earful last week as the shutdown was reaching the end of the fifth week, and why Senate Republicans were prepared to open the government with a veto-proof majority at the end before Trump agreed to a three-week CR.
Small wonder that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi don’t want the White House involved in negotiations:
Trump also responded to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s suggestion that Democrats did not want The White House involved in the three-week negotiations on Capitol Hill, saying, “I don’t blame him,” but noted that “without our involvement, a deal is not going to get done.”
Don’t necessarily bet on that. Yanking the rug out from under the GOP’s negotiators in this fashion might have them looking for ways to sideline Trump too. If they can’t even trust Trump to stand by offers made publicly in national addresses, why should they go to the mat for him at all? Better to cut their own deals with Pelosi and address their own legislative concerns rather than try to guess which square Trump will land on at any particular moment.