Trump's first attempt at legislation fails miserably, while Senate slips further into dysfunction

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The White House’s first attempt at writing legislation netted precisely 39 votes, all 36 of them Republicans. That’s 39 percent, and would be a big fat “F” on anyone’s grading scale. In the few other legislative pushes during Trump’s first year—all two of them, taxes and Trumpcare—a handful of congressional Republicans wrote the bills.

This is the first time the White House provided legislative text, undoubtedly crafted by white supremacist White House aide Stephen Miller, so it makes Trump’s defeat here even more humiliating. Over on the House side, Speaker Paul Ryan can’t come up with the votes to pass it. It’s a dud.

That Mitch McConnell’s big “open-ended, free-for-all” immigration push came to nothing isn’t terribly surprising. None of the bills got the necessary 60 votes, though the bipartisan effort from a group of senators got the most—54 votes—of the three “reform” bills put forward. McConnell allowed a fourth vote on a purely political bill from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to defund sanctuary cities. It had absolutely nothing to do with the issue most immediately at hand—the Dreamers. It had nothing to do with immigration policy at all. It was offered solely because Republicans think sanctuary cities will be an issue in the midterms this fall.

That shows, again, the incredibly bad faith that McConnell has toward pretty much every issue but particularly this one. We’ve seen a year in which McConnell has completely shut Democrats out of the legislative process (again, taxes and Trumpcare brought up under budget reconciliation which required just 51 votes) where he could and did everything in his power to preemptively torpedo immigration, the one effort that he promised Democrats would be allowed to participate in.

It also shows, again, the absurdity of Democrats assuming that they can trust anything McConnell (or Trump, or Ryan) says he will do. For McConnell, it’s about two things: winning the next election and stacking the courts with wing-nut judges. Nothing he ever does is about governing. He particularly does not want to govern away an issue that he believes is salient for the next election—like immigration.

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer miscalculated badly and disastrously for the Dreamers this time. He believed first Trump, and then McConnell and gave away all his leverage. Now that Trump’s way has failed and the country is still demanding a solution for the Dreamers, Schumer might get another chance. But he’s got to recognize that Republicans own this disaster completely, and has to be willing to match McConnell’s intractability. Because he sure as hell can’t negotiate a solution here with more concessions.