Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) expressed his soft feelings for DREAMers — young aliens brought into the country by their parents without legal sanction, and how they are to be handled Friday at a Capitol Hill press conference.
“I’m sympathetic to their situation,” he said. Named for the DREAM Act, or the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, that attempted to resolve their legal status, the DREAMers were given a deferred prosecution status by President Barack Obama that was the material effect of giving them amnesty and a legal status to live, work, and study in the United States.
Because Obama’s deferred prosecution was an executive action without congressional approval, President Donald Trump could with the struck of a pen unwind Obama’s action, but he has not.
McConnell twice remarked that he has a deep concern for the DREAMers and that he discussed their plight with Trump.
“They are young people, who were brought here at a tender age, grown up or growing up in the process of growing up here,” he said. “I am very sympathetic to their situation and I feel the president is, too.”
The purpose of the press conference was to spell out Senate Republican accomplishments, including health care and regulatory reform, in the first six weeks of the 115th session of Congress in a rare, open-ended press conference at the Capitol.
“I thought it would be a good time for us, going into the recess, to take a look at what we’ve done so far,” said McConnell, who holds briefings by the Ohio Clock after the Republican senators hold their regular Tuesday policy luncheon–but he comes up to the Capitol’s third floor press galleries for this style of exchange with reporters.
McConnell dismissed leading questions from reporters that plugged into the narrative that Trump was in trouble with Capitol Hill Republicans or that the GOP agenda was stalling out.
The real story is the relentless delay and obstruction by Senate Democrats, who have not accepted the results of the 2016 election and are making a show of resistance to satisfy their base, he said.
“The budget resolution gives us the opportunity to repeal and begin the process of replacing Obamacare,” the senator said. “We’ve put three Congressional Review Acts on the president’s desk–two have been signed into law–and we’ve confirmed 13 cabinet nominations–some of them quite challenging.”
Senate Democrats have resorted to futile gestures, he said. In the case of nominations, the Democrats have insisted in using up all 30 hours of allotted debate for each appointee. It is a practice that forces the Senate to remain actively in session long into the night and leads to early morning votes as the only way to keep the schedule moving.
The delaying tactic affects the schedule, but not the outcome, he said.
“I hope at some point here, the other side will accept the results of last year’s election, allow the administration to get fully staffed and ready to go,” McConnell said. “The desire, I guess, to play to the far-left has been a consuming passion for them, so far, but we will back at it after the recess.”
The House and Senate are not scheduled to be in session next week for the traditional Presidents Day break.
When the Senate returns, it will take up more of the CRA bills from the House, he said.
These Congressional Review Act bills revoke specific rules issued within the previous 60 legislative days. Capitol Hill Republicans are aggressively undoing President Barack Obama’s late-inning regulations, saving the Trump administration the bother of the formal process.
“We plan to take as many of these job-killing regulations off the books as possible,” he said.
McConnell said of all of Obama’s actions, his piling on of regulations was one of the most damaging to the economy. “We are directly attacking the over-regulation issue.”
Senate Republicans are also moving forward on the repeal of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obamacare — first attacking the financial structure of the legislation through the budget process and then with a replacement, he said.
“It’s in a death spiral,” he said of Obamacare, which he said would still be the agenda to fix if Hillary Clinton were the president and Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.) were leading the Senate.
Pressed for a time table on Obamacare’s demise, the Kentuckian smiled: “When we have the votes.”