Editor’s Note: This post was written by Tyler DelGiudice
Together with a unified Republican Congress, President Trump has clear opportunities where he has the potential to succeed in enacting his preferred policy initiatives. I see Trump having the opportunity to be successful in pursuing immigration reform, specifically, building a wall on the Mexican border. On the campaign trail, Trump often called for the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico to stop the flow of illegal immigration, and to make Mexico pay for the construction of that wall. With a Republican Congress hesitant to entertain any further public feuds with the Trump White House, and with already existing support among Republican legislators for securing the border, I believe Trump has the opportunity to encourage Congress to approve funding for the construction of the border wall between the United States and Mexico. The main challenge in this regard, however, will be Trump’s attempt to make Mexico pay for the wall. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled a meeting with Trump last month after Trump made clear he was going to ask President Nieto to pay for the wall. While getting Mexico to pay for the wall might prove too difficult for Trump, I see opportunity for Trump to successfully order the construction of the wall.
However, despite having the opportunity to enact successful immigration reform, Trump’s insistence on the campaign trail and in continued support during his brief time in office, of withdrawing from NAFTA, presents one opportunity where President Trump may struggle in pursuing this initiative. However, President Trump may have softened on his desire to completely withdraw from the agreement, as he recently signed an executive order “stating his intention to renegotiate the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico.” The Republican Party is largely split on the issue of free trade, with some congressional Republicans detailing their continued support of NAFTA. Specifically, frequent Trump critic Senator John McCain of Arizona stated, “I’m deeply concerned by President Trump’s statements today reaffirming his commitment to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.” If Trump decides to completely scrap or reform NAFTA after his feud with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, he may struggle gaining support from congressional Republicans. If the early actions of Trump are any indication, he does not seem concerned with how his actions or statements are taken on Capitol Hill, and he may continue his negotiations with Mexico and Canada to renegotiate NAFTA, despite disapproval from Congress.
While President Trump enters office with very low approval ratings, I ultimately believe he will likely be successful in implementing mainstream Republican proposals, with the help of Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. With the 2018 election offering Republicans the chance to pick up additional Senate seats, Trump may have more opportunities to enact legislation as his term progresses.