Senate Democrats reject initial DACA offer

Senate Democrats reject initial DACA offer

Democrats have rejected an offer from Senate Republicans to pair border security legislation with an immigration fix that excluded a path to citizenship.

"Sen. [Chuck] Grassley and a working group had made an offer to Sen. [Dick] Durbin which he refuses to respond to. The way that Sen. Grassley described it is an impasse," Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said on Thursday.

Cornyn is a member of the group of Republicans convened by Grassley to negotiate a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program being nixed by the Trump administration.

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Now that the GOP offer has been rejected, Cornyn said Republicans are "looking at other ways forward."

"I think you'll be hearing more on that topic maybe as early as next week," he said.

A spokesman for Grassley didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The border security component of the GOP offer was Cornyn's legislation, though it excluded some of the more controversial provisions including targeting cities that don't comply with federal immigration law.

The offer also did not include a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, considered a red-line for Democrats.

Durbin, who has taken the lead on negotiating for Senate Democrats, told Politico that he was still trying to negotiate with Republicans.

“It was a 460-page border security bill by Sen. Cornyn,” Durbin told the publication. “I told him that is just not gonna happen. It didn’t even accept the Dream Act.”

A spokesman for Durbin confirmed his comments.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or Dream Act, would provide immigrants brought into the country illegally as children with a path to citizenship.

Pressed on the Democratic demand of the Dream Act, Cornyn added "well I think they wanted a fix for DACA. DACA wasn't a pathway to citizenship."

"Well I'm not going to negotiate with myself, we're interested in what they're willing to offer us on our priorities," he said, asked if citizenship was a red line for Republicans.

DACA, unlike the Dream Act, would allow the immigrants to work and go to school in the United States without the fear of deportation but did not include a citizenship path.

The back-and-forth over a potential legislative solution comes as the immigration fight has become one of the largest hurdles to getting an end-of-the-year funding deal done.

Several House Democrats, as well a growing number of Senate progressives, are warning that they will not support a government funding deal without an agreement on DACA.

The government is currently scheduled to run out of money next week, though lawmakers could pass a stop-gap bill that kicks the deadline later.

But Republicans, as well as the Trump administration, have drawn a hard line opposing including an immigration deal in the government funding bill.

"The deadline's March, as far as I — I understand it. We've got other deadlines in front of that, like fiscal year deadlines and appropriation deadlines," Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) told reporters on Thursday.

He added that if Democrats "want to get to a solution, they ought to come to the table and start talking."

Conservatives are also warning against including a path to citizenship in any agreement, arguing it would break with Trump's campaign hardline campaign rhetoric.

Democrats, however, believe they have leverage in the negotiations because Republicans need their votes to pass a government funding bill.

Republicans will need 60 votes in the Senate, including the support of at least eight Democrats or independents. Ryan could also be forced to lean on Democrats if conservative members of his caucus balk.