Posted: 8:11 pm Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
After a surprise deal last week with Democratic leaders in Congress on a disaster relief bill for victims of Hurricane Harvey, President Donald Trump is continuing to woo Democrats on other issues, having dinner with several Senators on tax reform, as a top White House official publicly signaled on Tuesday that the President may accept a bill to legalize immigrant “Dreamers” without tying it to his campaign vow to build a wall along the Mexican border.
“He wants to continue building unity by working on more issues supported by both parties, especially restoring fairness to our broken tax code and cutting taxes for hardworking Americans,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The outreach to Democrats comes as some Republicans grumbled about his agreement on the Harvey aid bill, which also included a short term increase in the nation’s debt limit, and temporary stop-gap budget that will run until December 8.
“The President truly believes, as he often says, that in order to succeed and grow, we must work as “one team, one people, and one American family,” Sanders told reporters at Tuesday’s White House briefing.
Members of bipartisan problem solvers caucus mtg w/POTUS Wed. "I'm hoping this is part of a new era of bipartisanship" NJ D Rep Gottheimer
— Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrewalshcnn) September 12, 2017
After a Tuesday night dinner with Senators from both parties that was to focus on tax reform, on Wednesday Mr. Trump will meet with a bipartisan group of moderates from both parties, who have dubbed themselves the “Problem Solvers Caucus,” as they try to reach across the aisle on major issues like health care, the budget and more.
At that meeting with the President, the group is expected to discuss Mr. Trump’s push for tax reform, and his desire to solve the DACA situation involving illegal immigrant “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. as minors.
On Tuesday, the President’s top legislative aide, Marc Short, told reporters that in order to approve such a DACA relief bill, the White House was not going to require that Congress include money for a wall along the Mexican border with that legislation.
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 12, 2017
Short’s words were immediately interpreted on Capitol Hill as confirmation that the President is ready to sign a bill to legalize DACA recipients, something that would run counter to the desires of many Republican lawmakers in the Congress.
What’s not clear is whether GOP leaders in the House and Senate are ready to move such a measure, and what other provisions they might seek to add on to it, as Democrats called for action by Christmas.
“It’s been one week since the President announced his DACA deadline,” said Rep. David Valadao (D-CA), referring to the President’s March date when his administration will stop processing DACA renewals. “The clock is ticking.”
But while Democrats are eager to come to an agreement on DACA, tax reform may be a much more difficult bipartisan assignment for Mr. Trump, as lawmakers in both parties have sharply divergent views on what changes need to be made.
Congress hasn’t passed a major tax reform bill since 1986, as GOP leaders keep reminding voters.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) September 12, 2017
But those two words – ‘tax reform’ – mean much different things to Democrats and Republicans, just like the three word phrase, ‘health care reform,’ making bipartisanship much more difficult to formulate.
Still, some Democrats have reacted positively to the cajoling from the President.
“I’ve had more personal time with Trump in two months, than I had with Obama in eight years,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said earlier this year.
But while the White House has talked about working with Democrats on tax reform and infrastructure, there still is no legislation to be voted on by lawmakers in the House and Senate.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.