What we're watching: How Trump's Democrat-blaming plays with the GOP
As pressure builds for Congress to pass legislation that would keep migrant families together at the border, President Trump continues to tweet, blaming Democrats for lawmakers' failure to act and forcing fellow Republicans to contend with his statements.
Reality check: Trump is right that any immigration bill would need significant Democratic support to make it through the Senate, but the GOP's immigration bills aren't even making it through the House, where not a single Democrat vote would be needed to pass legislation.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who has been a vocal opponent of President Trump within the Republican Party, criticized Trump for insulting Democrats and calling on them to "fix" immigration laws. "He ought to knock that off," Flake said on ABC's "This Week."
His full quote:
"I mean, Congress has to fix this, and what is bothersome is the president's rhetoric about the Democrats and their unwillingness to have any sort of border security or control. I was part of the effort in 2013, the bipartisan bill, the so-called Gang of Eight bill. That provided $41 billion towards border security, infrastructure, manpower, technology. Every Democrat voted for that bill. Every one of them.
So they are on record supporting significant border control. And so when the president says that or calls them clowns and losers, how does he expect the Democrats to sit down and work with Republicans on these issues? So words matter, what the president says matters and he ought to knock that off."
- The Gang of Eight bill included border security measures such as increased fencing, drone surveillance and more border patrol officers. It passed in the Senate with every Democrat and 14 Republicans voting in favor, but expired when the House chose not to act on it.
- On the state of the GOP: "You can't as a Republican these days stand in opposition to some of the President's policies or not condone his behavior and expect to win a Republican primary. That is the reality," Flake, who is retiring when his term expires, said.
House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) echoed Trump's rhetoric when pressed by Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace on how Democrats are to blame for immigration bills failing in the House when Republicans hold a significant majority.
His full quote:
"Well, I think our family needs to come together, but the fact is every Democrat voted against a very rational DACA fix. They've been talking about DACA for a year now, and we had a bill on the floor that would resolve this issue, legalize the DACA kids, and yet every one of them voted against that. I don't think that's operating in good faith either.
And I also think it's important on the border security piece — I've been doing this since I was a federal prosecutor in Texas to chairman of this committee — to deliver on the President's campaign promise, to build the wall, the technology and get the border secure."
Worth noting: The DACA fix McCaul is referring to was part of the immigration bill championed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte which failed on Thursday. It did not include a path to citizenship for Dreamers — a primary aim for Democrats — but it did allow the 690,000 existing DACA recipients to renew their legal status every three years.