GOP senators: 'Dreamers' deal will likely end up in funding bill
© Greg Nash

Republican senators are predicting that a fix for a key Obama-era immigration program will end up in next month's government funding bill, as they search for ways to break a months-long stalemate. 

Several GOP senators said Monday that the mammoth bill, known as an omnibus, would likely be the vehicle for a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (R-S.C.) said that including a short-term deal on DACA in the omnibus was the most likely of three potential paths forward. 
"That's probably the most likely thing, when we write the funding of the government bill we'll extend DACA legislatively, making it legal for a year or two and kind of punting it," Graham told reporters. 
The other two options, in Graham's view, are Congress doing nothing or President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE realizing there is a "sweet spot" that would pair a permanent fix for DACA with border wall funding. 
Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAt least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together Overnight Tech: Intel chief says 'no doubt' Russia will meddle in midterms | Dems press FCC over net neutrality comments | Bill aims to bridge rural-urban digital divide | FCC to review rules on children's TV Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide MORE (R-W.Va.), while stressing she would rather have a permanent fix, predicted that a years-long immigration agreement in the March funding bill is likely. 
"I have a feeling what we may see on this is ... a DACA fix and some border security, a much smaller package, that will be attached to the March 22 spending bill. If I was guessing what was going to happen, I think that's what may happen," Capito told WRNR, a West Virginia radio station. 
The pivot to a short-term DACA agreement and the possibility of attaching it to the government funding bill comes after senators rejected four immigration proposals, including the White House framework and a narrower centrist deal, earlier this month. 
The setback meant no clear end to a months-long stalemate and raised new questions about what, if anything, could pass Congress and win over Trump. 
Congress has until March 24 to pass a government funding bill and prevent the third partial shutdown of the year. 
Flake noted on Monday that Congress does "better with a deadline" and including a DACA fix in the omnibus was their "best" option after the Senate failed to pass a stand-alone measure. 
Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) said he doesn't want the two to be linked, but that he wouldn't be "surprised" if that happens.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see the issue come up when we vote on the budget. I hope it doesn't. I think you're mixing apples and oranges, but I wouldn't be surprised," he told reporters. 
The omnibus likely represents Democrats' next, best point of leverage to try to force a DACA deal going forward.
McConnell has previously voiced opposition to including DACA in short-term government funding bills but hasn't publicly weighed in on linking it to the March omnibus. 
A spokesman told The Hill late last week that he didn't have any announcements on the funding bill but pointed to comments McConnell made after the Senate voted down the four immigration proposals. 

“If a solution is developed in the future that can pass both the House and the Senate and be signed into law by the president, it should be considered. But for that to happen, Democrats will need to take a second look at these core elements of necessary reform,” he said at the time.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ MORE (R-Texas), McConnell's No. 2, told reporters earlier this month that "some temporary provision” could be included if both sides can reach an agreement.  

The government funding deadline comes weeks after a March 5 deadline initially created by the Trump administration's decision to end DACA, which allows certain immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school. 
But two court decisions requiring the program to remain on the books while litigation plays out have thrown that time frame into limbo. The Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration's request to leapfrog an appeals court and take up their appeal of one of the injunctions.