By Will Racke
President Donald Trump will pivot to a pair of immigration bills Wednesday, following a major setback to Republican efforts to move forward on a health care reform law.
Trump is backing two proposals working their way through the House of Representatives: A measure that would pull funding from sanctuary cities and another that would stiffen penalties for illegal aliens caught entering the U.S. after being deported. The bills are expected to pass a Republican-controlled House before lawmakers adjourn for the July 4 holiday recess.
In advance of a House vote scheduled for Thursday, the president will host a meeting with the victims of crimes committed by illegal aliens at the White House, reports the Washington Examiner. The move draws attention to one of Trump’s legislative priorities, tougher immigration enforcement, and away from the GOP’s stalled plans to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The effort to craft a repeal bill fell into disarray Tuesday, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to table a vote due to defections by a dozen Republican senators. It was an embarrassing blow to the White House, which has struggled to get Republicans to follow through on Obamacare repeal, one of the president’s signature campaign promises.
Trump finds his party more unified on the immigration question than on health care reform. Though many GOP legislators have pushed back against the administration’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the House immigration enforcement bills enjoy widespread support among Congressional Republicans.
The proposals, both introduced by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, focus on interior enforcement and prescribe tougher penalties for immigration violations.
The “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” (H.R. 3003) would permit the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to withhold grants from cities and states that refuse to comply with federal immigration law or honor immigration detention requests. It also lengthens detention periods for certain categories of illegal aliens arrested by immigration agents.
The second measure under consideration is “Kate’s Law” (H.R. 3004), which mandates tougher penalties against deported criminal aliens who illegally re-enter the U.S. The bill is named after Kate Steinle, who was killed in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant with an extensive criminal history and a record of multiple deportations.
In policy statements issued Tuesday, the White House affirmed Trump supports and would sign both bills. The measures as written are unlikely to pass the Senate, where Republicans need at least eight Democratic votes to advance the legislation.
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