White House

Cal Thomas: It's Trump and Republicans full speed ahead while Democrats retreat

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier listens at left as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with pharmaceutical industry leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier listens at left as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with pharmaceutical industry leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)  (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Republican members of Congress met in Philadelphia last weekend for what was called a retreat. It might have been more accurately labeled an advance.

Perhaps not since the days of Franklin Roosevelt’s first term has so much been done by so few that will potentially impact so many (to paraphrase Winston Churchill in a completely different context).

Writing on CNN’s politics page, Stephen Collinson commented: “Forget the first 100 days. It’s only been a week and Donald Trump is reinventing the presidency.”

Given what conservatives consider CNN’s hostility toward Trump, Collinson may not have meant it as a compliment.

There are so many issues — from abortion (The March for Life featured Vice President Mike Pence, the highest-ranking White House official to address the march), reinstatement of the Mexico City policy, which forbids the U.S. from funding any group that provides or promotes abortion overseas, an executive order reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota pipelines, beginning the process of building “the border wall,” focusing on Christian refugees fleeing persecution and performing “extreme vetting” on people coming from countries that promote and even export terrorism (Saudi Arabia apparently excepted for some reason), ordering the deportation of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, increasing the number of border agents, instituting a government hiring freeze, a stop order on new regulations until they can be evaluated, initial steps to repeal Obamacare, withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership, meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May and placing a call to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With the mayors of so many sanctuary cities vowing not to turn over illegal immigrants to federal law enforcement, it is worth noting that the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Gimenez, has reversed a 2013 resolution by the county commission, which refused to indefinitely detain illegal immigrants without reimbursement.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, the Obama administration subsequently designated Miami-Dade a “sanctuary city,” even though the county challenged the label. Mayor Gimenez has now ordered county jails to comply with federal requests to hold immigrants, citing President Trump’s executive order. It is a small victory for the president, who has threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with the law, something some mayors swear to do when they take their oaths of office.

While Republicans were “advancing” in Philadelphia, Senate Democrats were retreating in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where they assembled to figure out how they lost to Trump and what they need to do to win over his voters. If Democrats return to Washington with the same failed ideas, they can count on further defeat.

In week two, the president encountered his first speed bump. The first court challenge to his executive orders came Saturday, reports The New York Times, when Federal District Court Judge Ann M. Donnelly “blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order.” It stopped short of letting them in or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Trump’s actions.

Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia also “issued a temporary restraining order affecting 63 people detained at Dulles International Airport... It ordered authorities to ‘permit lawyers access to all legal permanent residents being detained’ …/and said authorities are ‘forbidden from removing’ the permanent residents for seven days.”

Responding to the judge’s orders, the Department of Homeland Security issued this statement: “President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place — prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.”

This week, President Trump will nominate someone to the Supreme Court. He told David Brody of CBN News that it is a person Evangelical Christians “will love.”

It will be difficult to top Trump’s first week, but don’t bet against him. He isn’t retreating.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America". Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.