Just a week after the election, the cracks were starting to show between Trump and Republicans on some pretty major issues. Now that the election is over and it's time for Republicans to govern, they appear to be growing wider.
Deportation forces? Despite President-elect Donald Trump's use of the phrase, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) promised in a CNN town hall Thursday night: "In Congress, it's not happening."
Medicare reform? Despite Trump's desire to leave it alone, Ryan says Medicare is in such a dire state that "we better get prepared to fix this problem."
Deporting all 11 million immigrants in the country illegally? Trump is fuzzy on whether he stands on one of his signature his campaign promises, but Ryan indicated Thursday he's inclined to help keep children of undocumented parents in the country. "No," he said when asked by an undocumented woman whether he thinks she should be deported.
Oh, and Russia. Pretty much everyone in Washington except Trump wants to slap sanctions on Russia, Ryan included. ("I think Russia is a global menace led by a man who is menacing," he said Thursday.)
No president and his party are on the same page on everything (see President Obama vs. congressional Democrats on trade). And Ryan and Trump have both expressed support for replacing Obamacare as soon as possible after they repeal it. (Though the devil is in the details. Ryan said Thursday it could be done within the next three months; Trump theorized a replacement plan will "most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably, the same day, could be the same hour.")
When it comes to critical decisions, such as how tough to get on Russia, or whether to get super tough on immigration, or how much federal money to spend on things like infrastructure reform, or whether to slap tariffs on imported goods, Trump increasingly looks like he's on an island within his own party.
Even his own Cabinet nominees repeatedly broke with his campaign promises on everything from prosecuting Hillary Clinton to playing nice with Russia in their confirmation hearings this week.
What's going on now between Trump and Republican leaders has some echoes of the dynamic during the presidential campaign: Ryan and other GOP leaders would highlight their agreements with Trump (repeal Obamacare, get a conservative on the Supreme Court), but there were also very conspicuous disagreements (a Muslim ban, NATO, that darn Russia thing again).
At one point during the campaign, Ryan denounced or disagreed with something Trump said roughly once a week.
By the end of the campaign, Ryan had broken up with Trump completely.
And lest you think it's just Ryan splitting with Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vocalized his disagreements with Trump, too. He's supported calls by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for an investigation into Russia's meddling in the U.S. election, and he's put a hard foot down on Trump's term-limit proposal. ("I say we have term limits now. They’re called elections.")
Ryan appears to still be very excited that he has a Republican president — it's topped his wish list since he suddenly became speaker in the fall of 2015. And he's not trying to hide the fact that there are some rifts between him and the president he got. "Look, we don't all agree on everything. I think people kind of know that," Ryan acknowledged Thursday.
He also appeared willing to meet Trump in the middle on some things, such as whether to set aside tax credits for child care, a top Trump priority.
But the fact remains that Ryan and McConnell are now charged with legislating the agenda of a president whose views on some major issues they do not share.
Right now the disagreements are manifesting themselves as cracks in Republicans' stranglehold on Washington. But keep an eye on how much those cracks widen. It could mean the difference between whether Trump's grab-bag conservative populism reshapes the Republican Party — or gets buried by more traditional Republicans who don't agree.
Paul Ryan: Trump mass deportations "not happening"
Congressional Republicans are working with the Trump transition team on a solution for immigrants brought illegally to this country as kids, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday.
Hundreds of thousands of these immigrants gained temporary protections and work permits from President Obama. While campaigning for president, Donald Trump promised to undo those protections, putting the immigrants at risk of deportation, although he said last month he hoped to “work something out” to help them.
Ryan didn’t detail what Congress and Mr. Trump would do about the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. But when questioned on a CNN town hall by a woman who identified herself as a DACA recipient with a young daughter, Ryan told her he did not want to see her deported.
“I can see you love your daughter, you are a nice person who has a great future ahead of you, and I hope your future is here,” Ryan said.
“What we have to do is find a way to make sure that you can get right with the law, and we’ve got to do this in a good way so that the rug doesn’t get pulled out from under you and your family gets separated.”
Host Jake Tapper pointed out that Mr. Trump, during the campaign, promised a “deportation force” to round up the more than 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. Ryan dismissed that idea.
“I’m here to tell you in Congress, it’s not happening.”
Instead, Ryan said Mr. Trump has asked lawmakers to focus on two priorities with respect to illegal immigration: securing the border and deporting immigrants who are violent, repeat criminals.
House GOP lawmakers and aides have also said recently they’re working on how to pay for border security to make good on Mr. Trump’s promise of building a wall on the border with Mexico, although at least initially taxpayers would foot the bill - not Mexico, as Mr. Trump promised.
DACA has extended work permits and temporary deportation relief to more than 700,000 immigrants brought illegally to this country as youths since its creation in 2012. Mr. Trump has said it and other Obama executive actions are unconstitutional, since they involved going around Congress, a position Ryan repeated Thursday.
DACA permits need to be renewed every two years, so Mr. Trump could cancel out the program over time by ordering agencies to stop processing new applications and renewals. There is high anxiety in immigrant communities about what he will do.
“We have to figure out how to have a humane solution to this very legitimate, sincere problem and respect the rule of law,” Ryan said.
Are Mass Deportations Coming in the US? Paul Ryan Says No
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had some comforting advice for a trembling, undocumented Hispanic woman from Oklahoma standing before him Thursday night during a nationally televised CNN town hall meeting who is worried that he she will be deported after President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20.
With her young daughter at her side, Angelica Villalobos asked Ryan, “Do you think that I should be deported?” Although she currently is protected by an Obama administration policy for undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. illegally while they were children, her fear is that all bets will be off once Trump takes the reins and begins to make good on his early campaign pledge to deport millions of illegal immigrants.
“No,” Ryan replied, “I can see that you love your daughter, that you’re a nice person that has a great future ahead of you, and I hope your future’s here. And so, what we have to do is find a way so that you can get right with the law, and we’ve got to do this in a good way so that the rug doesn’t get pulled out from under you and your family gets separated.”
Ryan, a one-time champion of major reform of immigration laws that would provide a legal pathway for many illegal immigrants to remain and work in the country, has had to straddle the issue since Trump roared to victory on his pledge to root out most of the 12 million undocumented workers and send many of them packing back to their countries of origin.
For instance, the Wisconsin Republican now says he’s fully in sync with the incoming administration on the need to tighten security along the southern border with Mexico, including building a wall to keep others from crossing into the U.S. He agrees with measures to tighten immigration rules and withdraw federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities, like San Francisco and New York that have created havens of security and employment for illegal immigrants and their families.
And he is fully on board with policies to step up the arrest and deportation of tens of thousands of dangerous, repeat felons, including some who have been responsible for the violent deaths of U.S. citizens.
But Ryan has publicly rejected Trump’s earlier calls for mass deportations and a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country until the U.S. gets a better handle on domestic terrorism. He also continues to hold out hope for compromise legislation that would provide legal status to many illegal immigrants, despite conservatives’ complaints that that would be tantamount to amnesty. He said he is working with Trump’s transition team to find a “good, humane solution” for the families protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has safeguarded Villalobos and many others until now.
Finally, Ryan has repeatedly doused Trump’s idea to assemble a large federal deportation task force that would swoop down and arrest and detain millions of immigrants – and in the process break up families.
Ryan said last night that while “everybody thinks” a federal deportation force is being assembled, “that’s not happening.”
“If you’re worried about some deportation force knocking on your door this year, don’t worry about that,” Ryan counseled Villalobos.