President Donald Trump on Wednesday reiterated his desire for the Senate to pass his proposal on immigration — pressuring Republicans to reject anything else — as lawmakers are set to begin debating legislation.
The President’s statement serves as a fresh layer of difficulty for a Senate already struggling to find the bipartisan 60 votes required to advance legislation on any compromise position.
Trump indicated he would reject any temporary extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that he is seeking to end next month.
The statement supported a bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley and others that includes the President’s proposal to grant a pathway to citizenship to the young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children who were covered by DACA, but also includes upwards of $25 billion for border security, hardline immigration enforcement and substantial cuts to legal immigration — the latter part of which has been uniformly opposed by Democrats and some Republicans.
“I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars — that includes opposing any short-term ‘Band-Aid’ approach,” Trump said.
But the Grassley bill likely doesn’t have the backing of 60 votes or even 50, with Republicans like Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham opposing the cuts to legal migration and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas signaling he may oppose the pathway to citizenship.
Trump also encouraged a hardline proposal in the House from Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Mike McCaul that goes much further than the Senate proposal and White House framework and likely lacks even enough votes among Republicans to pass the House. It would be dead on arrival in the Senate.
Senators who have pushed for a debate on DACA have known the President is not likely to support a compromise in advance, but have hoped passing something by a wide margin could encourage him to get on board — which will be necessary for the House to act.
Trump’s refusal to consider other bills, at least in advance of something passing, could be a death knell for anything the Senate passes if he does not encourage the House to take it up.
Trump’s public comments on immigration have shifted. Last month, he suggested that he would sign whatever immigration bill landed on his desk.
“I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” Trump said during a bipartisan meeting with members of Congress at the time. “If they come to me with things I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it. Because I respect them.”