President Donald Trump has dumped the controversial issue of separating migrant children from their parents in the laps of Congress members and subjected them to the political fallout that goes with it.
Even though he's said he will sign an order to end the separations, the president expects Republican lawmakers to develop a permanent solution to the crisis he started with his zero-tolerance policy of criminally prosecuting folks who cross the southern border without authorization. And he's also saddled them with an explosive issue that could cause heartburn in the midterm elections.
Republicans are already at risk of losing the House, control of which was a byproduct of Trump's election in 2016. The images of crying children being ripped from their families only makes avoiding a blue wave of anti-Trump voters more difficult.
Though Trump would have a rough time putting his policies in place without a GOP-controlled Congress, he's not on the ballot in November, and the damage to his 2020 re-election campaign won't be as pronounced.
Trump could actually score points with his base — in the long run — because much of it has proven to be less tolerant, even hostile, to people illegally entering the country. Remember, Trump was elected amid frenzied calls for the nation to erect a wall along the border it shares with Mexico. He'll chalk up the controversy he's generated by separating children from families to his aggressive efforts to secure the border, and his base will accept it.
But Republicans who are on the ballot this year aren't in the same political position.
They carry the burden of Trump's negatives, but not necessarily the credibility he has with Republican or crossover voters. They also can't afford the increased turnout Democrats will enjoy because of Trump's policies.
Yet most have been slow to criticize the president for fear of alienating his loyal following.
At the Texas Republican Convention last week in San Antonio, most of the speakers praised the president, including Rep. Pete Sessions, who's in a tough re-election battle against Dallas civil rights lawyer Colin Allred in North Texas' 32nd congressional district. Democrats on Wednesday are protesting at Sessions' office in Dallas.
And though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott didn't mention Trump by name in his speech to the convention, afterward he told me the New York businessman was doing a great job and he defended Trump's border security policy, saying it was the job of Congress to solve the immigration problem. He repeated that in a letter to the Texas delegation Wednesday.
This news has been published by title GOP Hopefuls Distance Themselves From Donald Trump
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