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Will Mitch McConnell Keep His Word? Will McConnell Allow a Fair Process and a Level Playing Field as Promised?

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We should not be surprised that President Trump has undermined serious efforts to solve the Dreamers’ crisis he created. But that doesn’t absolve Congress from doing its job and protecting the Dreamers before they are exposed to deportation.

After rejecting bipartisan deals three times in the last five months, Trump and the White House are now pushing a radical plan that has no bipartisan support and can’t pass Congress. If Republicans in Congress follow the White House blindly, they will enact nothing and be held responsible for it. Unfortunately, blind allegiance and deference to the nativists in the White House seems to be the direction that House Speaker Paul Ryan is heading, judging from his comments today. Evidently, there’s not only a House Republican “Hastert Rule,” there’s a new “Trump Rule” — only measures that will enjoy Trump’s support are worthy of consideration. So much for majority rules.

As a result of Speaker Ryan’s continued spineless abdication, outsized responsibility falls on the Senate to advance the legislative process. There, the key question is whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will live up to his stated pledges. Last month, Senator McConnell said that if a DACA/immigration deal had not been reached by February 8:

It would be my intention to take up legislation here in the Senate that would address DACA and border security, as well as other related issues … Let me be clear: This immigration debate will have a level playing field at the outset and an amendment process that is fair to all sides.

The path forward is clear. It’s time to blow past a radical and racist White House plan and for Senator McConnell to live up to his word to hold a “neutral and fair” process, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer characterized Senator McConnell’s private and public pledges. This means that bills with the potential for a bipartisan breakthrough, such as the McCain-Coons approach, point at the way forward, while the divisive and nativist White House framework has no bipartisan support.

As Senator Mike Rounds (R-ID) said yesterday, “What we want is something which is neutral, so that people can add and subtract from it … [The White House framework] can’t be the beginning because [Democrats would say] that’s not neutral, that’s the White House’s point of view.”

Beyond a few hardliners such as Cornyn, Grassley, Lankford, Cotton and Perdue, many Senators on both sides of the aisle have argued that only a narrow approach that pairs Dreamer relief with border security measures can pass Congress (click here for more quotes from Republican Senators Thune, Collins, Alexander, Lee, Rounds and Rubio making the case for why “narrow gets it done.”).