President Donald Trump’s White House is giving the Democrats yet another big win, announcing this week that a legislative fix for President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program need not include funding for the new administration’s proposed border wall.
The Trump administration last week punted on DACA, announcing that it wouldn’t end outright the program the president and his Justice Department believe unconstitutional. Instead, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that lawmakers will have a six month grace period to come up with a legislative plan to allow nearly 1 million young people brought into the nation illegally as minors to remain in the United States.
With the announcement, many conservatives hoped that the White House’s willingness to give Democrats and Republican moderates a chance to salvage DACA would come with a demand for funding to accomplish another of the president’s promised immigration reform goals, securing the southern border via an ambitious wall construction project.
But the White House threw cold water on the idea Tuesday with legislative affairs director Marc Short telling a panel assembled by the Christian Science Monitor that the administration didn’t want to “bind” lawmakers with any such mandate.
“We’re interested in getting border security and the president has made the commitment to the American people that a barrier is important to that security,” Short said. “Whether or not that is part of a DACA equation, or … another legislative vehicle, I don’t want to bind us into a construct that would make the conclusion on DACA impossible.”
The statement comes after Trump already softened his stance on DACA considerably, telling Obama’s “dreamers” last week in a tweet:
For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about – No action!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2017
And with the administration’s reluctance to employ one of its only DACA bargaining chips, wall funding, it’s likely that “no action” will be the indefinite result of legislation rolled out to change the program in the next several months.
That is, unless Trump’s folks are willing to demand federal budget cuts as part of a DACA bill.
But that’s pretty unlikely, given that the administration has already signaled a willingness to work with Democrats over GOP objections to avoid legislative quarreling that could force a government shutdown in the name of cuts.
Speaking of the budget, and of all Trump’s winning, the three-month debt ceiling deal the president brokered with Democrats pushed the federal government’s gross debt over $20 trillion for the first time in the nation’s history Friday.
So far, here’s the score:
Obamacare– not repealed, probably headed for a bailout.
Spending cuts– nope.
Border wall– no plan for congressional funding.
DACA– likely here to stay.
Where’s that leave Trump’s die-hards? Perhaps it’s just more Jedi chess.
For now, Trump and establishment Republicans in Congress are saying tax reform is the new top priority. Remember, Trump promised to bring the national corporate tax rate down to 15 percent in order to motivate and reinvigorate industry in the U.S.
But the president also needs to come up with a bunch of money for his infrastructure proposals, so…
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to achieve that, given the budget issue,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said of the 15 percent rate Tuesday. “But we’re going to get this down to a very competitive level, and what the exact number is less important. And what’s more important is making sure we have a competitive system.”
So. Much. Winning.
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