There’s no denying the impact Donald Trump is having on the Republican presidential race. The New York real-estate developer and former reality-show host is not only leading in each of the recent national polls, but he’s also dominating the GOP conversation in ways his rivals find exasperating, but which they seem powerless to change.
But the Washington Post reported this morning that Trump’s influence is even reaching the Beltway, where the candidate is having some influence on “shaping the agenda of congressional Republicans.”
As a presidential candidate, he deserves a significant share of the credit, or blame, for prompting the congressional debate over “sanctuary cities.” Over the sleepy July Fourth holiday, he was the first national figure to seize on the murder in San Francisco of Kathryn Steinle, 32, allegedly by an illegal Mexican immigrant who should not have been in this country. The attention Trump brought played a central role in the Senate Judiciary Committee holding a hearing this week with testimony from Steinle’s father and relatives of other victims who have been killed by illegal immigrants. […]Taking action on the issue, the House is poised to vote on a bill that would cut off funding to certain law enforcement agencies who don’t comply with federal immigration law. There are several similar measures floating around the Senate.
In a statement yesterday the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said, “Donald Trump should not be setting the agenda for the United States Congress.”
That seems fair under the circumstances.
To be sure, Republican opposition to “sanctuary cities” is no doubt sincere. The party’s far-right posture on immigration has been intensifying in recent years, so it’s not as if these new proposals are out of character.
But the political context is also hard to overlook: Trump seized on the issue; Trump rose in the polls; and GOP lawmakers then decided it’s time to legislate on the issue.
I imagine many in the party will say they intended to legislate on “sanctuary cities” anyway, so it’s not like they’re taking orders from the bombastic presidential candidate. But the issue certainly isn’t new, and congressional Republicans only leaped into action after Trump said they should.
And the more GOP lawmakers tackle legislation important to Trump, the more credit Trump will take for his “leadership” in Republican politics.