Trump’s long shadow over immigration deal Politics


Congress is apparently close to the most comprehensive immigration reform in decades — a painstakingly negotiated legislative package that combines Republicans’ national security and border concerns with the emergency aid for Ukraine and Israel that Democrats are seeking, among other things. .

Republicans in the Senate, where bipartisan talks are taking place and where the bill could come up for a vote as early as this week, have seen a historic opportunity for the GOP to enact long-sought conservative policies to address immigrants. The emerging agreement has been appreciated. Flowing into America from the southern border.

There’s just one problem: Donald Trump.

Former President, who now seems almost certain to become the 2024 presidential candidate from the Republican Party Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drops out of race On Sunday, he denounced the compromise he has made in recent days, implying that he would refuse to support anything other than a package of staunch Republican policy priorities.

He inserted himself into the conversation on social media last week and made what was sure to be a controversial point, saying, “I don’t think we should do a border deal until we get everything we need to stop the invasion of millions of people.” go.” – If not completely impossible – passage through the House.

In doing so, the former president, with just one term, jeopardized the ability of dozens of already vulnerable GOP candidates to deliver signature legislative victories on an issue that includes many of his constituents. a top concern,

It’s a familiar — and increasingly problematic — phenomenon for conservative policymakers, whose viability, whether they like it or not, is often deeply tied to Trump’s actions and words. The dynamic is particularly unpleasant for House Republicans, many of whom would prefer the hard-line border security bill passed on a party-line vote last year, known as HR2, but otherwise after securing a legislative victory. desperate for historically unproductive Year.

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Representative Chip Roy, Texas Republican, captured this conundrum in a fiery speech on the House floor in November, in which he urged his colleagues to pass something – anything – that he could take home and Can play the trumpet.

“I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing – one! – That I can run a campaign and say we did it. One!” Roy shouted. “Anybody sitting in the complex, you can come down and explain to me one concrete, meaningful, important thing that the Republican majority has done, ‘Well, I guess it’s not as bad as the Democrats. ‘”

Earlier this year, Representative Andy Biggs shared the same concern in an interview with conservative media outlet Newsmax: “We have nothing. In my opinion, we don’t have anything to go out there and promote,” the Arizona Republican said. “Hesitant.”

It’s worth noting that Roy, for one, has called for the still-developing immigration bill “Horrible.” But it also begs the question: How long will the House GOP keep doing Trump’s bidding, especially when the party’s candidates may have to pay the price at the ballot box?

Following his landslide victory at the White House in 2016, Trump began to hold on to the Republican Party, which he rejoined after registering as a Democrat in 2009. His control over the GOP has tightened further since then, with some party officials feeling the wrath of his influence if they dare disagree with or challenge him in any way.

But while this suits Trump’s purposes, his leadership of the party has not always worked to the electoral advantage of down-ticket Republicans.

For example, in the 2017 off-year elections, Democrats took full control of state government in New Jersey and Washington state, while also picking up 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates – the chamber’s flip to Democrats since 1899. The biggest electoral change.

In 2018, the Democrats took over the House of Representatives, took over seven governorships and lost control of six state legislative chambers. The Republicans’ two-seat gain in the Senate was little consolation, with Trump’s agenda stymied by the House.

The following year, Democrats flipped the governorship in Kentucky and retained control of the office in Louisiana despite Trump’s strong efforts to elect a Republican. Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to President Joe Biden and the Democrats took control of the Senate.

Republicans made some significant gains in state elections in 2021 Virginia The governance and control of the House of Representatives of that State. but they performed poorly In 2022, the White House is barely able to control the House, despite historical trends suggesting a large advantage for the party not in power.

“When we look at Trump’s style of politics and choice of support in past elections, it’s clearly not hurting him in the Republican Party,” says political science professor Christopher Devine. University of Dayton,

However, he says that candidates deprived of tickets may have to bear the brunt of their loyalty to the party.

While Trump remains popular among Republicans, “the question is whether it’s driving away voters outside the party,” such as independents, DeWine says. “In 2022, it looked like he would hurt the ousted Republican. Whether this will still be the case in 2024 with Trump still on the ballot – I don’t know.

Notably in the 2022 midterms, high-profile Trump-backed GOP candidates for Senate – Kari Lake of Arizona, Mehmet Oz of Pennsylvania and Hershel Walker of Georgia – lost their elections in the midterms, as well. A good number of other Republicans Who Repeated Trump’s false statements That the 2020 election was stolen from them.

Democrats had another good off-year election in 2023, taking back the Virginia House of Delegates, gaining seats in New Jersey, and winning a significant victory. Wisconsin Supreme Court This seat has massive impact on abortion rights and voting access.

They Dominated in special elections Also last year, a state legislative seat in Trump’s home state of Florida was flipped from red to blue last week.

Such results point to the shadow the GOP is eager to shed, with many members confused about how to separate their interests with Trump’s grip on the party — a crippling dynamic that That’s what former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, now the only other major GOP contender in the presidential primaries, is trying to highlight for voters.

“The reality is, who lost the House for us? Who lost the Senate? Who lost the White House? Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump,” he said while campaigning in New Hampshire last week.

The looming immigration deal is poised to become the next litmus test.

Senate Republican leaders are insisting to their House GOP colleagues that this deal is the best they can hope for, even if Trump becomes president next year and Republicans control both chambers of Congress, any bill would have to pass 60 votes. -Given the need to pass the vote threshold. Senate.

“One thing I keep reminding our members is that if we had a 100% Republican government – ​​President, House, Senate – we probably wouldn’t have a single shot at passing what Senator Lankford and the administration are trying to do. “Democratic votes will not be able to come together,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told reporters, referring to ongoing talks for Republicans led by Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma.

“This is a unique opportunity to get something done in a divided government,” McConnell said.

Even GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has taken pains to support Trump, has called on House Republicans to support the border agreement.

“People who think that if President Trump wins, which I expect he will win, that we can get a better deal — you won’t do that,” Graham recently told reporters. “You have to get 60 votes in the United States Senate.”

“To my Republican friends: Getting this kind of border security without offering a path to citizenship is virtually unheard of. So if you think the next time, in ’25, if President Trump is president you’re going to get a better deal, Democrats will be hoping for a pathway to citizenship for him,” he said. “So for my Republican colleagues, this is a historic moment for border reform.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who is already in a tough spot with Republican hard-liners after negotiating with Democrats over top-line budget figures and a stop-gap funding package to prevent a government shutdown, is heeding Trump’s marching orders. Interested — though he left open at least the possibility of a Senate inquiry into the deal last week.

“We don’t know exactly what the Senate has come up with because we haven’t seen the text,” he told a news conference. “We look forward to seeing the lessons of what they have done.”


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