President Trump’s immigration-friendly era didn’t last long.
Having previously enraged his Republican base by striking a deal with Democrats on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Trump has now enraged the Democrats with whom he was dealing by tying the DACA compromise to a series of hardline immigration proposals that have some Democrats now threatening a government shutdown.
The end result: Neither side will get what they want, or even part of what they want.
A legislative codification of DACA has now been torpedoed, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his colleagues will shut down Washington before they let a single dollar get appropriated to build Trump’s border wall.
Both sides will also walk away angry.
As Ali Noorani, executive director for the National Immigration Forum, said to the Washington Post, the president has “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a pretty impressive way.”
It’s hard to pass legislation by alienating members of your own party, too
When President Obama first took office, he had a solid majority on the House and a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate. He was able to ram through legislation without any input from the GOP. That’s why Obamacare passed Congress without a single Republican vote.
Trump’s two-vote Senate majority is so thin that the only way anything gets through is to hold his entire caucus together. It’s a caucus that includes moderates like Maine’s Susan Collins and hard-liners like Texas’ Ted Cruz. And they need to craft those bills in a way that won’t trigger a Democratic filibuster.
When all else fails, as it inevitably will with this kind of approach, Trump then takes to Twitter and begins berating the very senators who hold the fate of the Trump agenda in their 52 hands. And with 52 Republican senators, and as all of them have two hands, it’s actually 104 hands.
This past weekend, Trump lashed out at one of those 52 senators with a series of schoolyard-taunt tweets, thereby effectively reducing his potential Republican support in the Senate to 51.
As former-congressman-turned-lobbyist Thomas M. Reynolds told The New York Times:
Under the normal, traditional rules of politics of the last 40 years of my life, a president would not poke a senator in the eye when he has a two-seat majority and a major legislative agenda needing to be accomplished.
Reynolds has thereby exposing himself to a presidential Twitter attack.
Defying the conventional rules of politics
Of course, this president rose to power by defying the traditional rules of politics. He continues to observe the rules of how a CEO of a privately-held business orders his whims into company policy, not recognizing that barking orders until they’re obeyed doesn’t corral 535 representatives into doing his bidding.
The very things that made him an effective businessman – or at least an effective reality TV show host – are working against him in his efforts to get any of his agenda through what should be a favorable Congress.
This should be obvious to everyone but the president. That this is why the American people should expect future defeats snatched from the jaws of victory in the days and weeks ahead.
(Photo of President Donald Trump speaks as he met with immigration crime victims at the White House on June 28, 2017, by Molly Riley-Pool/Getty Images.)