Democrats are predicting a battle against Republicans over immigration reform if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency on Nov. 8.
The Democratic nominee has promised a sweeping immigration reform bill in her first 100 days, and Hispanic groups plan to hold her to that promise, according to The Hill.
New York Sen. Charles Schumer, would be the new Senate majority leader if Democrats win the majority in that chamber, and he has noted immigration reform as a priority.
Senate Democrats are looking further ahead to 2018, when they will defend 25 seats, some in Republican-leaning states such as Indiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, Missouri, and Montana.
They know that current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be likely to use support for immigration reform against them.
"McConnell will be on the immediate hunt to win back the Republican majority and the 2018ers will be gun-shy out of the gate. They're worried about what can get done before 2018. They're already freaking out," one senior Senate Democratic aide told The Hill.
Some Democrats would like Clinton to focus on investment in infrastructure instead of immigration. They believe a partisan battle over the immigration issue — which Republican candidate Donald Trump has made a key part of his campaign — could bog down Clinton's hopes to meet significant goals in her first hundred days in office.
"You have only a couple of bites at the apple in your honeymoon. Getting something done that can pass the House like an infrastructure bill is a benefit to the 2018ers. That will be at the front of everyone's mind. They'll be worried about passing immigration reform," the Democratic aide said.
Clinton's campaign staff said she would want to work on both immigration and infrastructure.
"They are priorities that are consensus proposals that have strong support in the country and thirdly they are both things that in a normal environment Republicans in the past have been inclined to support," said Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has shown support for both topics and "if she wins, it will be in the best interests of Republicans to want to work on those things since they are consensus proposals," Fallon added.
Clinton spokesman said that he expected a post-election analysis by Republicans would point out their incentive to focus on Hispanic voters.
"I would expect if Hillary Clinton is successful, Republicans will again face a scenario similar to the 2012 aftermath where they penned an entire autopsy saying they needed to get right with key constituencies, including by enacting comprehensive immigration reform," Fallon said.
Schumer predicts immigration and infrastructure could have bipartisan support in the new Congress and the "mainstream conservatives" will tell the far-right members of Congress, who staunchly oppose immigration reform, to "go take a hike" if they try to muster opposition, The Hill reports.
In 2014, all Senate Democrats and some Republicans voted for an immigration reform package, but the GOP-controlled House killed the bill when then-Speaker John Boehner refused to bring a companion bill to the floor for a vote.
Democrats are skeptical that Republicans' politics on the issue have changed, and whether Ryan would support immigration with a path to citizenship like Clinton wants.
Ryan's office said he hopes he will not be working with Clinton. "Our focus right now is on defeating Democrats including Hillary," Ryan's spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.
Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist agreed that trust is an issue for Republicans with Clinton. "Just because there just isn't the trust, it's awfully tough to do this thing. Comprehensive (reform) is when you at least trust the other guy enough that when you walk out the door everything will get done," he said.
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