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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

All Eyes on Trump as Senate Begins Immigration Free-for-All

"As the Senate kicks off its free-for-all process to craft bipartisan immigration legislation, some leading Republican voices are pinning their hopes on President Donald Trump to prevent any legislation they might pass from dying in the House as it did the last time Congress took a stab at immigration reform.

But Democrats have warned that relying on the president is a major gamble. Lawmakers on all sides of the immigration issue drew lines in the sand on Monday as they raced toward a March 5 deadline to enshrine legal protections for so-called DREAMers, those undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, and approve new funds for border security—two of what Trump has said are four conditions for a bill he would sign into law.

“I don’t know what I’m going to find tomorrow morning with the first tweet of the morning and what he’s going to say during the course of the day,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told The Daily Beast. “He’s just unpredictable.”

But at least two Republicans with whom Durbin has worked closely on bipartisan immigration proposals—Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ)—have publicly stated that they are pinning their hopes on Trump supporting the Senate-passed bill and, in turn, pressuring House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to take it up in the House.

“That’s the best hope we’ve got,” Flake told The Daily Beast. “I do think that if we pass something with 65, 70 votes—that he’ll support it… If the president wants it, I think the House will go for it.”

It’s unlikely, though, that any bipartisan Senate bill will address all four of Trump’s conditions. Durbin said the president’s unpredictability is making Congress’ job harder—especially in a crucial week where the Senate is kicking off a debate that will yield an unknown result.

“Nailing the president down has been next to impossible,” Durbin said of his negotiations with the White House and other members of Congress. “He created this problem. We need him to solve this problem. We can’t do it alone. At some point, he has to be willing to sign off.”

All Eyes on Trump as Senate Begins Immigration Free-for-All

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