NBC News’ First Read team noted this morning that this has been “a very good week” for Donald Trump: “Victory at the Supreme Court with the travel ban. Victory at the Supreme Court over union dues. And now his chance to put another justice on the Supreme Court.”
This is undeniably true, and the White House is no doubt thrilled by the developments. But as the judicial branch gives Trump reason to celebrate, it’s probably worth noting for the record that the president suffered a rather humiliating setback in Congress yesterday.
Indeed, just minutes before the public learned of a certain Supreme Court justice’s retirement, House Republicans roundly rejected their own immigration bill, ignoring Trump’s guidance.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected the bill in a 121-301 vote, falling short of the roughly 218 votes needed to pass. No Democrats voted in favor of the bill.
While 121 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, 112 Republicans voted against it even after the president called on them to support the measure this morning. A number of those who opposed the legislation are members of the conservative Freedom Caucus.
As vote tallies go, 121 to 301 is pretty brutal – and on a normal day, it probably would’ve dominated the political headlines.
This was, after all, a proposal negotiated by Republicans, for Republicans, intended to carefully conform to the agenda laid out by a Republican president. This wasn’t about the law, per se, since everyone involved knew the partisan bill couldn’t pass the Senate. Rather, this was supposed to be an exercise in raw political power.
And it failed spectacularly.
Rank-and-file GOP lawmakers not only ignored Trump, they also blew off the recommendations of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) – who took the unusual step of casting a vote on the floor yesterday.
The result made Ryan look bad, because he couldn’t persuade his own members to support a bill he described earlier this week as a “consensus” proposal. It made the president look bad, because his own party crushed a bill he encouraged his allies to support. It made GOP “moderates” look bad because they gave up on a bipartisan package to pursue this doomed legislation.
And it made Republicans in general look bad because it reinforced impressions that the party isn’t serious about governing.
Roll Call reported last week that Paul Ryan conceded “he’s not sure if House Republicans can pass any immigration bill.”
There’s no longer any need for uncertainty.