GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration

GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration
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The year-end immigration debate is splitting both parties as lawmakers eyeing campaigns in 2018 and 2020 are trying to push the discussion in different directions.

Democrats who are considering running for president in 2020 are calling for a hard line by threatening a government shutdown if Republicans don’t agree to protect young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children from deportation.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMichael Moore: Russia, Stormy Daniels stories are 'shiny keys to distract us' Fix the flaw in financial self-regulation Power struggle threatens to sink bank legislation MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSupreme Court must agree with California and end lies spread by fake women's health centers Senate confirms Trump's border chief Do Dems need someone people like to beat Trump? MORE (D-Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker: 'This is the most important midterm election of our lifetime' Senate GOP: Legislation to protect Mueller not needed NY and NJ lawmakers press Ryan on Gateway project funding MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersAnti-abortion Dem wins primary fight Lipinski holds slim lead in tough Illinois primary fight Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps MORE (I-Vt.), all prospects to run for president in three years, say they won’t vote for a year-end funding bill while these immigrants face the threat of deportation.

“I have been clear,” Harris said on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, noting the looming deadline to fund the government. “Any bill that funds the government must also include a fix for” the young immigrants.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have also warned they would oppose spending legislation unless some concessions are made to protect these so-called Dreamers.

But vulnerable Democrats running for reelection next year in states that President Trump won don’t want any part of that strategy. They are aiming to show swing voters who backed Trump that they’re willing to work with Republicans when it makes sense.

“I think it’s stupid talk. You don’t want to shut the government down. That’s not where I’m going to be,” said Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate GOP: We will grow our majority in midterms Senate passes bipartisan bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Green Party Senate candidate was previously on state GOP payroll: report MORE (D-Mont.), who is running for reelection in a state Trump won by more than 20 points over Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp Trump keeps up 'low IQ' attack on Maxine Waters GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE.

Tester said he wants the Dreamers taken care of, but “you don’t shut the government down.”

It’s one of the few rifts that has emerged this year between liberals and centrists, who have stayed remarkably unified in opposition to Trump’s agenda.

Republicans failed to pick up a single Democrat in either chamber to vote for their health-care or tax-reform bills.

Senate Republicans have tried to soften up centrist Democrats in red states ahead of the midterm elections by portraying them as knee-jerk obstructionists blocking Trump’s agenda.

These Democrats have pushed back by arguing they’re ready to work with the president on tax reform and other issues if he embraces some of their ideas.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp GOP Senate candidate slams McCaskill over Clinton ties Dems meddle against Illinois governor ahead of GOP primary MORE (D-Mo.), who is up for reelection next year in a state Trump carried with 56 percent of the vote, said, “I don’t have much appetite for a government shutdown and I don’t like lines in the sand.”

McCaskill said “fixing the law for the Dreamers is a very big priority,” but declined to endorse the position of liberal Democrats. 

“I guess it means I’m not in the mix for 2020,” she quipped, when a reporter noted that some colleagues with White House ambitions want to make funding the government contingent on an immigration deal.

The party’s top leaders, Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerConscience protections for health-care providers should be standard Pension committee must deliver on retirement promise Dem super PAC launches ad defending Donnelly on taxes MORE (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiAnti-abortion Dem wins primary fight Lipinski holds slim lead in tough Illinois primary fight Steyer brings his push to impeach Trump to town halls across the nation MORE (Calif.), have assiduously avoided threats of a government shutdown, knowing it could put some of their colleagues in a tough spot.

Schumer downplayed the prospect of Democrats blocking a spending measure to force Republicans to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that President Obama created in 2012 to halt deportations for certain young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.

“We don’t think we’re going to get to that. There are good negotiations occurring between Democrats and Republicans to come up with a good DACA program, as well as some good border security,” he said Tuesday after a meeting of the Democratic caucus.

Schumer’s comments are aimed at setting expectations to the left wing of his party and immigration-reform activists, who have been pressing hard for DACA provisions — with no border security language — signed into law this month.

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans are dealing with their own divisions.

GOP leaders are talking tough about immigration in public, but behind the scenes they appear eager to strike a deal with Democrats.

Conservatives deride giving legal status to immigrants in the U.S. illegally, including those brought to the country as young children, as “amnesty.”

While some Republicans, such as Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSteyer brings his push to impeach Trump to town halls across the nation Flake: I'd back impeaching Trump if he fired Mueller 'without cause' Water has experienced a decade of bipartisan success MORE (Ariz.), want to strike an immigration deal quickly, others are saying it will take weeks of additional negotiation and proposing trade-offs that Democrats dismiss as unacceptable.

Flake, who has publicly clashed with Trump, told reporters after meeting with the president Tuesday that he thinks an immigration deal is possible before Christmas. He discussed immigration reform briefly with the president before their meeting, which was focused on trade. 

Flake is working with Sens. Michael BennetMichael Farrand Bennet2020 Dems unify around assault weapons ban, putting pressure on colleagues McConnell, Schumer tap colleagues to explore budget reform Democrats march toward single-payer health care MORE (D-Colo.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone Water has experienced a decade of bipartisan success Trump vows tougher borders to fight opioid epidemic MORE (D-Ill.) to reach a compromise to help the Dreamers and expressed some irritation with colleagues for dragging their feet.

“Some of us are trying to actually make a law, not make a point. We’ve done enough of making a point,” said Flake, who is not running for reelection in 2018. 

Other Republicans are taking a tougher line with Democrats in the negotiations, raising doubts about the prospect of passing bipartisan legislation this month.

A group of Republicans led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone GOP leaders back second special counsel MORE (Iowa) and Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynWhite House officials expect short-term funding bill to avert shutdown Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (Texas) on Tuesday introduced the SECURE Act, which includes some tough immigration enforcement measures such as permanent authorization of the E-Verify program.

E-Verify, an internet-based system that enables employers to quickly verify the legal status of their employees, is a poison-pill provision for Democrats.

“This proposal, as I have told them personally, cannot be considered a good faith effort to provide protection for the Dreamers,” Durbin fumed in a statement.

Durbin accused the group of trying to delay and stop “any serious bipartisan effort to solve this crisis.”

The GOP legislation would also stop what is known as “chain migration.” It would allow immigrants to bring only their spouses and young children into the country.

The co-sponsors included Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSteyer brings his push to impeach Trump to town halls across the nation Trump formally sends Pompeo nomination to Senate GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (R-S.C.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone North Carolina GOP previously hired Cambridge Analytica: report Senate GOP: Legislation to protect Mueller not needed MORE (R-N.C.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordOvernight Cybersecurity: Senate Intel releases election security findings | Facebook to meet with officials on Capitol Hill amid Cambridge Analytica fallout | Orbitz admits possible breach Senate Intel releases summary of election security report Trump presses GOP to change Senate rules MORE (R-Okla.), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonProtecting American innovation Russian spy poisoning brings world powers closer to day of reckoning GOP senators see Tillerson ouster as the new normal MORE (R-Ark.).

Tillis, who has had discussions with Durbin “for months” and spoken with Flake, said a deal is possible but questioned getting it done before next year.

“We’ve got a lot more to do. We’ve got [the] work visa program, we’ve got the remainder of the illegally present population and a number of areas we can really build on,” he said.

He said it would be “very ambitious given some of the gaps we got to bridge” to reach an agreement before 2018.

Yet House Republicans, at risk of losing their seats in a possible Democratic wave election next year, want to take the issue off the table ahead of 2018.

A group of 34 Republicans asked Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone Overnight Regulation: FTC to probe Facebook over user data | FDA takes step to regulating flavors in tobacco products | Congress may include background check measure in funding bill Judge rules FEC wrongly dismissed complaint against conservative group MORE (R-Wis.) in a letter Tuesday to schedule a vote to protect Dreamers later this month.

“We are compelled to act immediately because many DACA recipients are about to lose or have already lost their permits in the wake of the program’s rescission,” they wrote.