Move over tax reform: Immigration upends GOP legislative agenda ..


Really, the hilarity of legislative incompetence that has emanated from Republicans’ total control of the federal government has been like a grab bag of Halloween goodies. But it’s not over, folks. After they drove their healthcare promise six years in the making straight into the ground, Republicans have been salivating to move on to tax reform—an issue ridden with an equally complex tangle of special interests that Republicans somehow think they can overcome under the deceptively simple umbrella of “cuts.” That alone is an exercise in magical thinking, but now the glow in their eyes is turning misty after Donald Trump mixed it up with Democrats over some soy sauce and thrust immigration into the final throes of 2017. NYT’s Jeremy Peters writes:

Virtually nothing can drive Republicans more bitterly apart than immigration policy, which has vexed the party ever since President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Republican leaders were scorched by the issue when President George W. Bush pushed it in his second term. The divisions re-emerged when President Barack Obama took it back up.

And now it re-enters the political bloodstream just when the party was desperate to demonstrate its ability to deliver on other complicated issues before lawmakers face voters next year, like lowering corporate and individual tax rates and revitalizing the nation’s infrastructure. […] [Trump] has put Republicans on an unpredictable path, compelled to take up immigration, not on their own terms but after the prodding of two Democratic leaders who are politically invested in their failure. If nothing else, no one seemed very interested in talking about tax policy on Thursday.

It’s juicy, isn’t it? Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are presumably also very invested in protecting some 800,000 Dreamers from deportation, a situation that Trump self-manufactured by rescinding President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be touching Trump with a 10-foot pole. But the ancillary benefit of advancing a GOP political wedge certainly doesn’t hurt.

Not only is Trump’s nativist base livid, congressional Republicans are also split, with Trump’s GOP skeptics warming to the idea while his hard right flank frosts over.

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