Trump, GOP lawmakers put a hold on welfare reform this year

Donald Trump met with Republican congressional leaders on Saturday to discuss the agenda for 2018. On the GOP to do list will be immigration reform and a infrastructure bill.

But on the question of welfare reform, the president suggested that the issue would have to wait until next year.


“They want me to be involved, and very involved,” Trump said of Republican leaders. “We have to have more Republicans ... So I will be actually working for incumbents and anybody else that has my kind of thinking.”The party that controls the White House typically loses seats in the first congressional election after a presidential election, and Trump’s relatively low approval rating could increase the chances of Republican losses.

Trump and party leaders face a Jan. 19 deadline on passing legislation to prevent a government shutdown. The White House has said its next top priorities are a plan to invest in roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Republicans also want to reach an agreement on immigration policy, including addressing protections for hundreds of thousands of young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

Welfare reform, a priority for Ryan and other House Republicans, appeared to be waning as a Trump goal for this year.

He said “we are looking at it” but that the goal was to get a bipartisan deal on welfare reform. If that is not possible, the effort might be left to do later, he said.

The president has proposed spending $33 billion over the next 10 years on border security enhancements, including $18 billion for a wall. It's unclear at this point whether the government funding bill currently under negotiation would include all of that border security spending or just funding for the wall. Democrats are insisting that they will shut down the government unless any funding measure includes legislation legalizing DREAMers. Trump is adamant that any legislation regarding DREAMers include funding for the wall. The congressional deadline for government funding is January 19 and the two sides are still far apart in coming up with a spending plan.

These things don't get done until the last minute anyway, so what we're seeing now is posturing for the folks back home. There is definitely the outline of a deal - wall funding for DREAMers - but the two sides have a long way to go.

Trump also wants visa reforms as well as an end to "chain migration." Those are tough issues to resolve if they are included in a government funding bill, so the likelihood is that they will be taken up separately at another time.

The refusal of the GOP to deal with welfare reform is disappointing. With Republican prospects for maintaining control of the House in doubt, the time to deal with entitlements is now. However, realistically, the GOP congress has a full plate already and there just isn't time to resolve the thorny issue of welfare reform.

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