Monday, 21 January 2019

Trump Budget Compromise Opposed by Left and Right — But Could Pass

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Appearing on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich predicted that President Trump’s proposals announced this weekend to break the gridlock on the government shutdown will eventually pass, despite stiff opposition from both proponents and opponents of a border wall.

Ann Coulter, one of the nation’s best-known opponents of illegal immigration, tweeted, “Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb [Bush].” Numbers USA, a strongly anti-illegal immigration group, also criticized Trump’s package of proposals as amnesty.

Vice President Mike Pence disagreed with Coulter and others holding similar views on Fox News Sunday. “This is not amnesty. There’s no pathway to citizenship. There’s no permanent status here at all, which is what amnesty contemplates.” Pence added, “The president has made it clear what he would support. Now it’s time for the Senate and the House to start voting to secure our border and reopen the government.”

Even Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who began his term of office with an opinion piece in the liberal Washington Post critical of Trump, praised Trump’s proposals. In a tweet, Romney said that Trump “has put forth a reasonable, good faith proposal that will reopen the government and help secure the border. I look forward to voting for it and will work to encourage my Republican and Democratic colleagues to do the same.”

But, not surprisingly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the president’s proposals designed to end the government shutdown “a non-starter.” In fact, she predicted that it was “unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter.” She argued that the proposal does not include a “permanent solution for the Dreamers.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed, calling Trump’s package “one-sided,” and stating that the proposed remedies are “ineffective.”

Instead, Pelosi suggested that Trump sign the bills from the Democratic-controlled House and reopen the government, and then she would be willing to negotiate. No one seriously thinks that Pelosi would suddenly become more open to the wall were that to happen, but it does confirm Trump’s charge, also made this weekend, that Pelosi is being “controlled by the radical Left, which is a problem. and you know she’s under total control of the radical Left. I think that’s a very bad thing for her and I think it’s a very bad thing for the Democrats.”

In a Saturday televised address from the White House, Trump offered the Democrats a compromise package, which he said would lead to the reopening of the government. The proposed package included that he was now prepared to support shielding the “Dreamers” — about 700,000 illegal immigrants who arrived in the country as children — from deportation, for three years. Trump said this would give Congress the opportunity to develop a more permanent solution to the problem. The problem was created when President Obama issued an executive order, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allowed these “Dreamers” to remain in the country, without any fear of deportation.

Regardless of what one thinks about what should be done with the “Dreamers,” Obama’s action was clearly a usurpation of the authority of Congress, which is given all legislative power by the Constitution. An executive order by the president is legitimate, but he can issue orders to members of the executive branch only to carry out a law passed by Congress, not to make new laws, or laws disguised as “regulations.” A president has no more authority to “order” American citizens to do anything than any other U.S. citizen, absent a law passed by Congress.

Trump’s proposals include, besides $5.7 billion for more wall construction, $800 million for drug detection technology at ports of entry, 2,750 additional border agents, and 75 new immigration judges. The judges are needed to process asylum requests in a timely manner. Trump also proposes extending protections for immigrants from certain countries where conditions exist that would prevent them from returning safely — the so-called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.

Why do the Democrats so strongly oppose even sitting down with Trump and talking about his proposals? It is likely that they view the issue of the government shutdown as politically beneficial to them. They also want to deny Trump a “victory” with his border wall. Majority Forward, a dark-money group aligned with Senator Schumer, is reportedly dumping $600,000 in a campaign attacking Republican senators up for reelection in 2020, using the government shutdown as the driving issue. Were Schumer and Pelosi to agree to end the shutdown, then it would quickly evaporate as an issue.

But Gingrich argued on Fox News Sunday that he expects Trump’s package to pass Congress. He contended that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will amend the recently-passed House bill to include Trump’s proposals, and that enough Democrats, who fear being branded as obstructionists and responsible themselves for the shutdown, will ultimately vote for its passage. Then, when the amended proposal goes back to the House, enough Democrats who share the same fear will provide the votes to send the bill to the White House.

With all that being said, there may yet be a rebellion from some members either truly concerned about amnesty for illegal immigrants, or simply being branded as pro-amnesty, to sink the proposal. While the Reagan administration’s 1986 amnesty was a generation ago, it is well known that promises were made then that the border would be secured, in exchange for the amnesty provided to about three million illegal aliens. These promises were obviously not honored, by presidents from George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama — leaving the problem in the lap of Donald Trump.

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Photo: AP Images

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