Trump not making the sale on House immigration bills?

The other bills, that is, not the stopgap effort announced by Paul Ryan and backed by the White House earlier today. The efforts to pass a significant immigration reform effort just four months ahead of a midterm election appear to be foundering, a number of media outlets report. Despite his reversal and strong support for either bill under consideration in the House, Donald Trump’s not making a sale even among Republicans:

President Donald Trump told House Republicans to send him an immigration bill dealing with Dreamers and migrant families being separated at the border in a freewheeling closed-door address Tuesday.

But Trump’s call to action does not appear to be enough to push newly crafted Republican immigration legislation over the finish line, according to multiple senior House Republicans and wary conservatives — at least not yet. …

Yet senior House Republicans learned late Tuesday night that they were far from the 218 votes needed to pass a compromise immigration package after doing a whip check on the bill, according to multiple GOP lawmakers and aides. Some conservatives warned that Trump was not specific enough in his support of the leadership’s bill. Others simply continued to worry about blowback from the far right for supporting anything that could be labeled “amnesty.”

“It did not move the needle at all,” said one top Republican lawmaker who has not decided how he will vote. “He made comments like ‘I’m behind it 1,000 percent,’ but what is ‘it’?”

That’s a very good question, but as noted earlier, Ted Cruz raised an even better question. If the issue of family separations gets resolved, or at least spread out to obstructionists who block a solution, what’s the rush on a broader reform? Why not wait until after the election to possibly enrage Republican voters?

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz told the conservative online network CRTV that in conversations with House leadership, he’s practically dropped to his knees and begged them not to move forward.

“It is difficult to think of a path better designed to keep 3 to 5 million conservatives home in November than to pass a big amnesty plan right before the election,” he said. “Even in Washington, that’s colossally stupid, and saying that in Washington is a big deal.”

Meadows said Cruz’s remarks made him “confident” that if the House were to pass the compromise bill, it or anything close to it wouldn’t pass the Senate.

“I think that is something that is weighing on a number of our members,” he said. “Why pass a bill if it’s not going to become law, and it’s not going to pass the Senate, especially on one that has so many emotional facets to it?”

One reason is that Trump wants his border-wall funding before the election, and he can’t get it without giving up something in return. That does make sense, and it fits within the broader conclusion that the deal has already been defined. Trump will have to regularize DACA to get his border wall and some process fixes, and other issues such as family reunification/”chain migration” policies will have to wait for comprehensive immigration reform.

The bigger takeaway here is that Trump’s influence might be waning a bit in Congress. That might be because of the political damage from the family separation outcomes in zero-tolerance enforcement, or it might be a result from Trump’s embarrassing gaffe on the immigration bills last week and a loss of confidence in his judgment. Or, more simply, House conservatives don’t have much reason to trust Senate Republicans at this point.

Whichever take one prefers, it looks like immigration reform in any broader scope than fixing the family-separation outcomes won’t fly in 2018. That could be a bigger problem for conservatives in 2019, however, if the GOP can’t hold onto the majority. If Democrats take over, they can drive a harder bargain with Trump, and it’s not clear that his desire for a deal won’t override his conservative impulses on immigration.

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