White House, Durbin battle over scheduling immigration briefing

Greg Nash

The White House on Friday denied canceling a scheduled briefing with lawmakers on President Trump’s proposed plan for bipartisan legislation on immigration reform. 

But a staffer for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) provided an email to The Hill indicating the White House did cancel the meeting earlier in the day.

“The White House just cancelled Monday’s briefing on its immigration plan,” Ben Marter, the communications director for Durbin, wrote on Twitter.

Marter said White House chief of staff John Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were set to brief Durbin and key lawmakers from both chambers on the proposal the White House unveiled Thursday.


The acting press secretary for Homeland Security, Tyler Houlton, replied in a tweet that there had been a “scheduling issue,” and that the department was working to reschedule the briefing on the same day.

“This is a scheduling issue – nothing more. @SecNielsen is committed to meeting and we are working to reschedule on Monday,” Houlton said.

The White House denied that it canceled the meeting.

“No,” spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said when asked if Marter’s claim was true.

Durbin’s spokesman later tweeted that the meeting was “back on” at the original time, but said the White House only rescheduled after the Twitter exchange. 

Durbin and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 senators of their parties, are expected to be at the meeting, along with House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Marter said. 

The senators will take the lead in drafting legislation on the White House plan, which includes proposals for $25 billion in funding for a border wall and tougher border security measures in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for nearly 1.8 million immigrants. 

Senators who met Thursday for talks on a scaled-back immigration plan said they are looking to pitch ideas for a final plan to the two senators in charge of the bill.  

— Jordan Fabian contributed to this report, which was updated at 7:16 p.m.

Tags Dick Durbin Dick Durbin Donald Trump Immigration John Cornyn John Cornyn John Kelly Kevin McCarthy Kirstjen Nielsen Kirstjen Nielsen Steny Hoyer White House framework
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