GOP Leadership to Delay Donald Trump’s Election-Winning Priorities

Trump with Ryan AP

A top ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan has outlined the GOP leadership’s strategy to isolate and block President Donald Trump’s populist campaign promises, likely including his popular immigration reforms.

“We all agree that some of President Trump’s proposed policies are not going to line up very well with our conservative policies,” Texas Rep. Bill Flores told an inside-the-beltway audience on Dec. 1.

“Let’s do the things where we agree — let’s do tax reform, lets do Obamacare, lets replace Obamacare, let’s start dealing with border security, let’s rebuild our national security and then, on those areas where his agenda is not exactly aligned with ours … then, we’ll figure out the rest in the next six months,” Flores told Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute.

“The GOP Congressional leadership wants to pass all its priorities quickly — tax cuts, regulatory cuts, Obamacare repeal, a Scalia replacement, maybe throw in some kind of weak ‘border security’ bill for show,” influential blogger Mickey Kaus told Breitbart, adding:

But once Trump signs their bills, what do they need him for? His leverage is cut in half. If he wants new laws — mandatory e-Verify, funding for a Wall etc.– it seems like he has to get them while he still has leverage.

Flores also said that if the GOP takes the lead, Trump also will be less likely to push his populist agenda by changing agency policies and regulationsThe GOP leadership will “just tell him, ‘Hey, we’ll take the lead on this, and we will give you the legislative and constitutional support to go forward,’ and that way, he’s not inclined to use a pen, to try to follow the Obama model,” said Flores.

Flores’ effort to head off regulatory changes is important, because President Trump will have the ability to implement most of his immigration policy without any aid from Congress. For example, he can reduce companies’ use of the salary-shrinking guest worker programs, he can end President Barack Obama’s catch-and-release policy for Central American migrants, and he can restart criminal investigations of employers who hire illegals instead of Americans.

Those legal immigration issues are very different from “border security,” which is focused on construction of a border barrier and the hiring of border guards to oversee the barrier. 

The GOP’s business donors strongly oppose Trump’s popular immigration plans, partly because they would reduce the massive legal and illegal immigration that transfers roughly $500 billion a year from pay packets to corporate profits and to Wall Street

Flores’ press aides dismissed questions from Breitbart News. “Conservatives in the House are ready to work with the new administration to advance a conservative agenda that provides the American people with much needed relief after eight years of President Obama’s disastrous policies,” said an email from Travis Hall, the communications director at the Republican Study Committee, where Flores has served as chairman for the last two years. “House leadership is best poised to answer questions about what it intends to do in the next Congress,” he added.

 There’s growing evidence that Flores’ description is Ryan’s plan.

In a 60 Minutes interview conducted Dec. 1, Ryan outlined his six top priorities, which do not include implementation of Trump’s election-winning immigration reform policy.

The six priorities are “repealing and replacing Obamacare, fixing the regulatory state to grow jobs, reforming the tax code, rebuilding the military, securing the border, and making sure that we can address some of the infrastructure problems that we have,” Ryan told CBS.

That’s a close match to Flores’ priority list:

Let’s do the things where we agree  –– let’s do tax reform, let’s repeal Obamacare, lets replace Obamacare, let’s start dealing with border security, let’s rebuild our national security … we could easily take six months to do those things where we agree, and that gives us the next six months to try to figure out where is the commonality between what he want to do with respect to infrastructure, and what we think the way would be to go with respect to infrastructure, just as one example.

Both Ryan and Flores are also offering Trump the opportunity to get distracted in complex plans for infrastructure spending — knowing that any debate on infrastructure — airports, roads, buildings — may drag Trump away from pushing his election-winning immigration reforms through Congress.

Over the last six years, both Obama and GOP leaders have tried to implement the same “me first” political strategy against each other.

In 2014, for example, after the Democrats lost their Senate majority by pushing for amnesty in 2013 and 2014, Obama offered an apparent compromise with the GOP’s new Senate leader, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. But that “compromise” consisted of passing Obama’s agenda first, then opposing the GOP’s agenda, he revealed at a Nov. 5 press conference. 

I think we can move together to respond to people’s economic needs … whether it’s immigration or climate change, or making sure our kids are going to the best possible schools, to making sure that our communities are creating jobs; whether it’s stopping the spread of terror and disease, to opening up doors of opportunity to everybody who’s willing to work hard and take responsibility — the United States has big things to do.  We can and we will make progress if we do it together.  And I look forward to the work ahead.

McConnell made the same one-sided offer, saying “We ought to start with the view that maybe there are some things we can agree on to make progress for the country.” But his offer put the GOP’s priorities — such as energy deregulation — first, and Obama’s priorities later.

In December 2013, Obama asked Ryan to approve legislation that both sides agreed with — while suggesting he would oppose Ryan’s other goals. The 2012 budget agreement hopefully “creates a good pattern for next year, where we work on, at least, the things we agreed to, even if we agree to disagree on some of the other big-ticket items,” Obama said, adding, “I think immigration potentially falls in that category.”

Under Obama, the federal government annually imports at least one million legal immigrants, plus almost one million temporary white-collar guest workers and blue-collar guest workers for jobs sought by Americans. Those two million new foreign workers — plus the roughly eight million illegal immigrants in jobs — compete against the four million young Americans who begin looking for jobs each year. That wage-cutting competition shifts roughly $500 billion per year from wages and salaries into company profits, boosting investors and Wall Street.

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC or email the author at


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.