Why are Ryan and McConnell more concerned about making Schumer happy than Trump?
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“Why are Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRevising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices Paul Ryan will attend Biden's inauguration COVID-19 relief bill: A promising first act for immigration reform MORE and Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat would MLK say about Trump and the Republican Party? Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE more worried about accommodating Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Graham pushes Schumer for vote to dismiss impeachment article Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE than accommodating me?” That must be the question on President TrumpDonald TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire MORE’s mind as he ponders the latest news on the negotiations over the spending bill that must pass before April 28 to keep the government open.

After all, it was Trump who won the 2016 election, not Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJuan Williams: The real 'Deep State' is pro-Trump Rep. John Katko: Why I became the first Republican lawmaker to support impeachment Can we protect our country — from our rulers, and ourselves? MORE. So why does the emerging spending bill not include funding for Trump’s priorities, and instead look like something a GOP Congress would have passed had Clinton won?

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Scholars and analysts will be offering competing theories for years to explain Trump’s victory. FBI Director Comey’s intervention caused her loss, say Clinton partisans; Trump was simply a better candidate for the times, counter Republicans. But one thing all can agree on is the simple fact that Trump’s candidacy was successful because he took advantage of a deep-seated demand among a large segment of the public to shake things up in Washington. Too many voters were tired of the same old, same old, and they were willing to take a chance to put in power the first candidate in memory who looked like he could actually follow through on that desire for change.

 

And on the issues front, the issue most identified with Trump – and which was responsible in large measure for pulling blue-collar Democrats in the upper Midwest (read: the voters who propelled Trump to victory) across party lines – was tougher enforcement of immigration laws.

Congressional leaders who don’t understand and act on that run the risk of losing their leadership privileges.

At issue in the negotiations over the spending bill is President Trump’s determination to keep the promise he made regarding tougher enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws, a central element of his “America First” program. He said he wanted to build a wall along the nation’s southern border, and he said so-called “sanctuary cities” should lose federal funding.

But Senate Democrats oppose funding for the border wall, and oppose efforts to cut off federal funds for “sanctuary cities.” And for some reason, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer seems to think he’s got the whip hand in the ongoing negotiations. With a 48-vote minority, he can’t pass anything on his own, but he has enough power to filibuster the spending bill, and prevent an up-or-down vote on the underlying bill.

Thus, Schumer’s threat to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – leave out funding for the border wall and a provision cutting off federal funds for “sanctuary cities,” or he’ll filibuster. And then the government will shut down, and Republicans will get the blame.

Schumer’s threat appears to be enough to have convinced Ryan and McConnell to back off, and to tell the president he can’t have what he wants.

That’s wrong.

For years under then-President Obama, the congressional GOP leadership regularly caved to White House demands. “He has the veto pen, and the bully pulpit of the White House,” they would say, offering an excuse, “what can we do?”

But now Republicans control the White House. Now it’s a Republican president who has the bully pulpit, and the veto pen. So what’s their excuse now? Why is the Senate Minority Leader more to be feared than the president? Why do Schumer’s political wishes trump the president’s?

Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden faces monumental task healing divided country Garth Brooks to play at Biden swearing-in ceremony Obama honors MLK Day: 'He never gave in to violence, never waved a traitorous flag' MORE insisted on funding for ObamaCare in the fall of 2013, and declared he would veto a funding bill that didn’t include funds for his pet program. Congressional GOP leaders backed down and gave him what he wanted – funding for a law that more than half the country opposed.

If President Trump succumbs to the thinking of some around him – “don’t pick a fight with Schumer, let’s make nice with the Democrats” – he’ll never get his agenda enacted. Because Chuck Schumer doesn’t want the same things Donald Trump wants. Schumer wouldn’t see an accommodation on this front as a compromise; he’d see it as a victory. He’d pocket it, and know he can roll the president the next time he needs to. And then we’d have four years of the tail wagging the dog, a Senate Minority Leader deciding what the nation’s president can and cannot achieve.

The good news is, the president has smart people around him. White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHarris to resign from Senate seat on Monday Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Sessions, top DOJ officials knew 'zero tolerance' would separate families, watchdog finds MORE, and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, among others, are committed supporters of the president’s America First agenda. When they insist on tougher immigration enforcement, they know they’re speaking to and for the cross-party coalition responsible for Trump’s victory.

Let’s hope the president remembers who got him into the White House in the first place, and why he was elected. As long as he remembers that, he’ll be in good shape – and so will the country.

Jenny Beth Martin (@JennyBethM) is co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.