Budget Deal Sinks 2018 Amnesty, Splits Democrats

Evan Vucci/AP

The two-year budget plan announced Wednesday by top Senate leaders has caused an apparent split between Sen. Minority Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

The plan sharply increases domestic spending by roughly $131 million over the next two years, but it effectively blocks the Democrats’ push to win a 2018 amnesty for so-called ‘dreamer’ illegals

The agreement blocks that amnesty push because it leaves the Senate Democrats without any budget leverage to force House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan to schedule an amnesty debate on the House floor that would split the GOP caucus prior to the November election. 

The amnesty defeat will be downplayed by Democrats who believe they will gain support before November by mounting a large-scale P.R. campaign for a ‘dreamer’ amnesty. The likely result of the campaign will be continued demands and protests for an amnesty but no significant votes — unless President Donald Trump caves on his four-part amnesty-and-immigration plan. 

Pelosi spent several hours on Wednesday morning theatrically complaining about the budget deal on the House floor. She said:

It does nothing to even advance, even with a commitment — without having passed the legislation first, to advance bipartisan legislation to protect dreamers in this House. Without that commitment from Speaker Ryan, comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support, nor does it have the support of a large number of members of our caucus.

However, Pelosi does not have the votes to block the budget deal in the GOP-dominated House.

In his statement on the Senate floor, Schumer echoed her complaint, but only after touting the role played by endangered Democratic senators in winning more spending for their states. He ended his short speech by saying:

I also hope that Speaker Ryan will do what Sen. McConnell has agreed to do — allow a fair and open process to debate a dreamer bill on the House floor.

Both statements were aimed at the Democratic base, which has been ginned up to expect an amnesty battle and victory this year. That base includes hundreds of illegal immigrants and protestors rallying Wednesday at the Capitol

The two-year budget deal is not the 2018 government budget. That budget has been blocked several times by fighting over the amnesty and spending levels – but the budget deal provides Capitol Hill appropriators will spending caps to guide set another six weeks to deft a final 2018 spending plan to last the remainder of the year. The appropriators have a new deadline of six weeks to devise a spending plan before House and Senate votes in March, and which will likely include funding for wall construction in 2018. 

The two-year budget offers an extra $165 billion for defense programs, at at least $131 billion for vote-winning domestic programs, including $6 billion to counter the opioid epidemic. 

Schumer and his Senate Democrats gave up their push for amnesty leverage following their failed January government shutdown, championed by the second-ranking Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin. That unpopular shutdown damaged the reelection chances of 10 Democratic senators who face the November voters in states won by President Donald Trump in 2016.

In exchange, Senate Democrats won a promise from Senate Majority Sen. Mitch McConnell for a Senate debate on amnesty, starting February 8. McConnell announced a few details of the planned debate at the end of his Wednesday budget statement, saying: 

I obviously cannot guarantee any outcome, let alone supermajority support, I can ensure the process is fair to all sides and that is what I intend to do.

But that Senate debate means little to Democrats because Ryan announced February 6 he would not allow a House debate on immgration unless President Donald Trump endorses the proposed amnesty-and-immigration bill. Ryan said Tuesday:

Let me be very clear about this. We’ll take a bill that the president supports, so we look — put it this way, President Trump made a very serious and sincere offer of goodwill with the reforms that he sent to the Hill. That is what we should be working off of … So we’re not going to bring immigration legislation through that the President doesn’t support.

Ryan’s statement also blocks any Senate amnesty bill because GOP or Democratic Senators facing election in 2018 will not vote for a unpopular amnesty if Ryan has already declared their proposal will go nowhere without Trump’s approval. If they vote for an amnesty opposed by Trump, they will not get a bill through the House and their vote will be hung around their necks during the 2018 campaign season.

Moreover, without support from the roughly 10 Democratic Senators who face tough elections in November, the Democrats can’t win support from ten to 15 business-first GOP Senators who want to see a cheap-labor amnesty approved by Congress.

Trump’s own four-part amnesty-and immigration framework has been rejected by Democrats because it gradually winds down the inflow of Democratic-leaning voters via chain-migration program. 

Meanwhile, Trump and his chief of staff, John Kelly, have shown frustration that the Democrats have rejected what Kelly described as a “very generous” amnesty-and-immigration offer.

Since that rejection, Trump’s language has begun shifting into a 2018 campaign theme as he charges Democrats with allowing an inflow of dangerous MS-13 gang members. On February 1, for example, Trump said electing more Republicans is one way to win pro-American immigration reform:

Really, that is another way of doing it. And based on the [election related] numbers we just saw, we have a real chance of doing that …  [Immigration] is now an election issue that will go to our benefit, not their benefit.

These changes suggest that Trump — and perhaps some many Republicans — will make immigration reform and amnesty a major part of the 2018 election. That focus is likely to help the GOP candidates counter the huge number of progressives who are angry at their defeat by Trump in 2016. 

Trump’s 2016 immigration policies are very popular among the public, including among blue-collar African-Americans who are a core element of the Democrats’ current electoral base.

In contrast, business groups, Democrats, and the establishment media tout misleading, industry-funded “Nation of Immigrants” polls which pressure Americans to say they welcome migrants, including the roughly 3 million ‘dreamer’ illegals.

The alternative “priority or fairness” polls — plus the 2016 election — show that voters in the polling booth put a much higher priority on helping their families, neighbors, and fellow nationals get decent jobs in a high-tech, high-immigrationlow-wage economy.



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