Why Bipartisan Immigration Legislation Is Nearly Impossible

An exchange between President Donald Trump and a top House Republican on immigration legislation illustrated a major reason for nearly a decade of congressional gridlock: the stranglehold on the House legislative agenda by its most conservative Republicans.It stems from GOP leaders' adherence to a procedure barring consideration of measures without the support of a majority of House Republicans, preventing the bipartisan legislating most Americans prefer and which could help restore Congress as a functional legislative body. The exchange occurred during the White House reality show Trump staged to counter the negative portrait in Michael Wolff's controversial best-seller, "Fire and Fury," several days before he further inflamed negotiations with his widely reported derogatory reference to the birthplaces of many U.S. immigrants.The president had just seemingly endorsed California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal that lawmakers pass a "clean" bill -- meaning without complicating amendments -- to protect the 800,000 predominantly Hispanic Dreamers, followed by a separate measure enhancing border security."Mr. President, you need to be clear, though," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy interjected, reminding Trump that was counter to longstanding GOP policy linking the two issues. "I think what Senator Feinstein is asking there -- when we talk about just DACA, we don't want to be back here two years later. We have to have security..."Trump responded: "But I think that's what she's saying."McCarthy: "No, I think she's saying something different. I think you're saying DACA without security."McCarthy was seemingly reminding Trump that Republicans don't support legislative protection for Dreamers without including provisions enhancing border security. But the exchange exemplified something more basic, the way conservative Tea Party and Freedom Caucus members, who constitute a majority of House Republicans, have been able to block action on key issues.  Continue reading...

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