President Donald Trump rose before sunrise Tuesday with one group on his mind: congressional Democrats.
The GOP president criticized the opposition party for what he sees as a collective unwillingness to cut immigration and infrastructure deals.
The Senate on Tuesday enters the first full day of floor work on a possible bipartisan immigration bill that, among other things, might legalize the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program and fund his proposed southern border wall. And the president appeared eager to send a message to red- and swing-state Democrats seeking re-election in November.
That warning came in the form of a tweet, as it often does during his morning executive time in the White House residence. “This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th,” the president wrote of addressing DACA.
Negotiations on DACA have begun. Republicans want to make a deal and Democrats say they want to make a deal. Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle. This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2018
He was referring to the early March deadline he set in a September executive order for lawmakers to send him a bill legalizing the program; if they do not, the 690,000 individuals brought here illegally by their parents who are now protected by the DACA program will be subject to deportation.
The president’s warning came just a few days after he said the DACA issue has become good politics for Republicans and bad for Democrats ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Trump is aligned with immigration hard-liners like Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, who are among a group that has introduced legislation mirroring a White House overhaul framework that would expand DACA protection to 1.8 million people, while establishing a $25 billion border barrier trust fund and altering several legal immigration programs.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raised eyebrows when he endorsed that hard-line legislation after keeping his own views under wraps. It led some Democrats to wonder aloud whether McConnell wants to allow senators to blow off steam with the floor debate without passing anything.
Adam Jentleson, a former chief of staff for former Sen. Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, on Monday night fired off a series of tweets predicting just that.
Gonna go out on a limb here and make some predictions about how this week will play out in the Senate on immigration.— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) February 13, 2018
Meanwhile, in an odd bit of messaging, the White House unveiled its long-promised immigration plan on the same day it rolled out its fiscal 2019 spending plan. The two things drowned one another out throughout the day, though they had one thing in common: Democrats lambasted both proposals. And the president noticed.
Trump contended with a tweet well before 6 a.m. that his infrastructure plan “has received great reviews by everyone except, of course, the Democrats.” He then listed things that need to be upgraded — including roads and airports — and electronically wondered if Democrats want to make a deal with him.
Our infrastructure plan has been put forward and has received great reviews by everyone except, of course, the Democrats. After many years we have taken care of our Military, now we have to fix our roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and more. Bipartisan, make deal Dems?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2018
“We’re going to get the roads in great shape,” Trump said Monday during an infrastructure meeting at the White House. “Washington no longer will be a roadblock to progress.”
Democrats immediately rejected his plan, which would devote $200 billion in federal funding to the coast-to-coast project while relying on $1.3 trillion in state, local and private funding. Democrats argued the former is too little and the latter will never come to fruition.
Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont said the White House infrastructure plan “falls far short of what is needed to address our nation’s crumbling bridges and outdated railroads and highways.”
“It seeks to fund its proposal on the backs of working Americans by raising new tolls,” Leahy said. “His untenable infrastructure proposal will bankrupt states, in favor of lining the pockets of wealthy developers.”
And House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley of New York called the White House plan “empty.”
“At a time when our bridges and roads are crumbling and our schools and hospitals are severely antiquated, the president’s empty proposal lacks vision,” he said. “It will force states into debt while robbing critical funds from vital transportation programs that keep America moving forward.”
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