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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

GOP disunity impedes trade, immigration, security steps

Five months before the high-stakes national midterm elections, tensions among Republicans persist on key proposals — not only between the White House and Congress but among GOP lawmakers who comprise majorities in both houses.

Gridlock is commonly viewed as two-party paralysis. But in its current form, internal GOP divisions are stalling any amnesty proposed for immigrants brought here illegally as children.

President Donald Trump proposed a legislative version of the administrative program implemented during his predecessor Barack Obama’s administration.

But Trump has said he doesn’t want it done without simultaneous steps on border security — namely his wall, fence, barrier or whatever structure he ultimately pushes.

On Thursday, enough Republicans were on the verge of siding with Democrats to successfully petition for a vote on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and DREAM Act-related bills. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was trying to head off such a move.

Ryan reported “a lot of consensus” after meeting with GOP conference members. But with hard-liners proposing their own immigration legislation, no concrete progress was reported.

Tariffs are another sticking point, pitting free trade advocates against those who want more forceful protections for certain American industries.

Industrialists and right-wing campaign donors Charles and David Koch were reported this week to be funding a multimillion-dollar campaign against Trump’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the EU and Mexico.

And amid tariff talks with China, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday announced a “definitive agreement” by which Chinese smartphone maker ZTE, which violated sanctions against rogue nations, could start up again.

“We are literally embedding a compliance department of our choosing into the company to monitor it going forward,” Ross told CNBC.

Not all Republicans were buying the hype.

“This ‘deal’ with ZTE may keep them from selling to Iran and North Korea,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted. “That’s good. But it will do nothing to keep us safe from corporate and national security espionage.”

As polarizing as the matters of ZTE, DREAM Act status and metal imports seem to be, each represents a relatively small slice of the immigration, trade and security issues facing the nation. Reaching consensus and taking sweeping action are still elusive for the Republicans in charge.

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