Trump Takes Victory Lap at GOP Retreat

 Gabrielle Levy

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. –– President Donald Trump on Thursday addressed Republican lawmakers gathered here for their annual retreat, praising them for "one of the greatest years in the history of politics, in the history of our country, for a party."

Their accomplishments, he said, meant he had "fulfilled more promises than we promised."

"I call it promises plus," he said to laughs. Trump was greeted warmly and frequently diverted from his remarks to recognize and praise party leaders.

As he did during Tuesday's State of the Union address, Trump devoted significant time to immigration – the political challenge that has dominated much of the past several months and is expected to continue to occupy Congress in the coming weeks.

In his prepared remarks, Trump touted the "four pillars" of the plan, including a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – which shields from deportation hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children. The plan also calls for enhancing border security with funding for a wall, ends the diversity visa lottery that issues visas randomly in countries that don't otherwise send very many immigrants, and limits family reunification policies to spouses and minor children. The plan has found some support within the Republican conference but has faced resistance from Democrats and some conservatives who disapprove of its various elements.

"Nearly 7 in 10 Americans support an immigration reform package that includes a permanent solution on DACA, secures the border, ends chain migration and cancels the visa lottery," he said. "Those are the four pillars that I talked about the other night. We call them the White House framework – a plan that will finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century."

But the president at times diverted from the script, warning that GOP lawmakers will have two alternate paths: They will either need to compromise or grow their majority in the Senate in the 2018 midterms so that it is not necessary to rely on Democrats to get legislation passed. He acknowledged that the party's biggest legislative success of his administration came because they only needed a simple majority vote in the Senate, due to the budget tactic known as reconciliation.

"With the tax bill, we got what we wanted because we had essentially a unanimous vote" among Republicans, Trump said. On immigration, however, "we're going to have to compromise or we're going to have to elect more Republicans. We're going to have to give a little in order to gain a whole lot."

The GOP currently holds a 51-49 majority in the Senate.

Nonetheless, Trump said he thought immigration would be a winning issue for Republicans.

"We want to take care of DACA, and I hope we will," Trump said. "We need the support of the Democrats in order to do it. And they might not want to do it. They talk like they do, but I don't think they do. But we're going to find out very soon."

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