GOP congressman: Trump's base would abandon him for immigration reform

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, says Trump's “base would leave him almost immediately” were he to support immigration reform, as he hinted ahead of his first address to Congress Tuesday night, rather than stick to the tough stance he espoused during the campaign.

During a lunch with television network anchors Tuesday, Trump said "the time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides." And a senior administration official said that the president would consider a pathway to citizenship for so-called "DREAMers" and potential legal status for those already in the U.S. who have not committed serious crimes.

But King, who supports tightening border security, told ABC News’ Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl on the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast that Trump’s Tuesday address was “exactly consistent” with the policies he touted on the campaign trail.

“The thing that gave Donald Trump traction was enforcing immigration law and of course building a wall,” King said, and that if he were to support immigration reform “not only would the conservatives start to leave him, I don’t know if anybody in the foreseeable future could run for the presidency on...securing our border.”

King also said he didn't support the president's stance on paid family leave, espoused by Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and didn't applaud that portion of his speech.

“That to me says borrowing money from China in order to pay people to babysit our children here,” King said, adding that refundable tax credits might allow “for Obamacare to be rebuilt back into statute.”

Nonetheless, King gave the speech “a very high grade.”

“When I heard him say the investment in infrastructure...it gave me a measure of hope if there’s going to be some private capital invested in that,” King said.

Trump’s address was punctuated by an emotional moment where Carryn Owens -- the wife of Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens, who was killed in a raid in Yemen authorized by Trump in January -- received a standing ovation.

The president discussed why he considered the raid successful, lauded Ryan Owens and acknowledged his widow.

Some lawmakers said that Trump should have stuck to praising the fallen SEAL and left the success of the raid out, but King disagreed. “I think if you ask Carryn Owens in one year, or five years or ten, or two or three generations from now they will look back on last night with great pride in their family,” King said.

As for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, King said that a GOP plan that espoused refundable tax credits is not a viable replacement because it implies that every American is entitled to a health insurance policy.

“There should not be that entitlement. We need to make sure that we take care of people and we can’t let them not have care,” King said, but added that a gap in insurance coverage could be covered by programs like public clinics and market competition.

King said it’s necessary for congress to “make a clean break” and fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and then send “the components of reform one at a time” from the House to the Senate.



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