Trump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback

President Trump on Saturday pitched linking funding for the border wall with temporary protections for some undocumented immigrants as a pathway out of the weeks-long partial shutdown, but quickly ran into pushback from Democrats.

Trump, who made his offer during a televised speech from the White House, floated extending protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients for three years and a three-year extension of protections for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders in exchange for more than $5 billion for a border wall.{mosads}

“Both sides in Washington must simply come together, listen to each other, put down their armor, build trust, reach across the aisle and find solutions,” Trump said.

Trump added that he was making his pitch to “break the logjam” that has paralyzed Washington since late December, leaving roughly a quarter of the government closed and forcing roughly 800,000 federal employees be furloughed or work without pay.

The partial government shutdown, which is the longest lapse in funding in modern history, is currently in its 29th day amid an entrenched stalemate over funding for Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Several polls have shown that a majority of Americans blame Trump for the partial shutdown. But Trump during his speech Saturday afternoon tried to build pressure on Democrats to back his plan and return to the negotiating table.

Talks between the president and congressional Democratic leadership have been at a standstill since the president left a meeting earlier this month when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she wouldn’t discuss border wall funding even if he reopened the government.

Trump, seeking to make his case, seized on his belief that there is a “crisis” along the border requiring “urgent action.”{mossecondads}

“Illegal immigration reduces wages and strains public services. The lack of border control provides a gateway, a very wide and open gateway, for criminals and gang members to enter the United States,” he said.

He also stressed that he had worked with rank-and-file members in both parties and urged them to back his request, characterizing it as “common sense” with “lots of compromise.”

“By incorporating the priorities of rank-and-file Democrats in our plan we hope they will over their enthusiastic support. … This is a common sense compromise both parties should embrace. The radical left can never control our borders,” he said.

Trump said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has pledged to give the bill a vote next week. McConnell confirmed that he will bring up the bill, saying it was “time to make a law.”

“With bipartisan cooperation, the Senate can send a bill to the House quickly so that they can take action as well. The situation for furloughed employees isn’t getting any brighter and the crisis at the border isn’t improved by show votes. But the President’s plan is a path toward addressing both issues quickly,” McConnell said in a statement. 

McConnell has repeatedly blocked House-passed bill that would reopen the government but did not include additional border money. He said earlier this week that the only proposal that would get a vote in the Senate would be an agreement between Trump and congressional Democrats.

McConnell met with Vice President Pence and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner on Thursday to discuss a potential path out of the partial shutdown. House Republicans were expected to discuss Trump’s proposal on a call later Saturday.

Trump’s proposal includes $800 million in emergency humanitarian assistance, more than 2,000 additional border agents and law enforcement officials and 75 additional immigration judges. His request would also allow for 230 miles of additional border wall or barriers.

But Democrats on Saturday pre-emptively blasted the president’s reported plan to offer immigration relief in exchange for border wall money, underscoring the entrenched nature of the fight.

“Democrats were hopeful that the President was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-need discussion to protect the border. … It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter,” Pelosi said in a statement released shortly before Trump’s address.

Tensions are also running high between the president and Pelosi after she asked him to postpone the State of the Union address, slated for Jan. 29. Trump in turn prevented lawmakers for using military plans for congressional trips, including for Pelosi’s planned trip to Afghanistan this week.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) added that Trump has to reopen the government and then lawmakers can negotiate on immigration and border security.

“Protecting Dreamers and TPS recipients is the right thing to do. The President is wrong to hold them hostage over money for a wasteful wall that could be better spent on more effective border security measures. The President’s trade offer — temporary protections for some immigrants in exchange for a border wall boondoggle — is not acceptable,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the only way out is for Trump to “open up the government … and then Democrats and Republicans can have a civil discussion and come up with bipartisan solutions.”  

“It was the President who singled-handedly took away DACA and TPS protections in the first place – offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage taking,” he added. 

Democrats say they were not consulted about Trump’s proposal, according to two Democratic aides, even though the party controls the House and its votes are needed in the Senate.

“Similar inadequate offers from the Administration were already rejected by Democrats. The BRIDGE Act does not fully protect Dreamers and is not a permanent solution,” said a senior House Democratic aide.

“This is not a compromise as it includes the same wasteful, ineffective $5.7 billion wall demand that shut down the government in the first place,” the aide continued.

Shortly before Trump delivered the televised address Saturday, he participated in a naturalization ceremony in the Oval Office for five new American citizens sworn in from Iraq, the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Bolivia and South Korea.

“You’re all at the beginning of a new and extraordinary adventure with the rights and freedoms you enjoy as Americans. There is nothing you cannot achieve, but citizenship is also a profound responsibility,” he said. 

The BRIDGE Act, as previously introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would allow “Dreamers” — immigrants who came to the country illegally as children — to get up to three years of “provisional protected presence” and the ability work in the United States. The proposal was meant to be a patch while Congress worked out a broader immigration deal, which has eluded lawmakers for years.

The intended stopgap bill was rendered moot after courts blocked Trump’s decision to end DACA, which was enacted by former President Obama in 2012 to give some immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as minors the right to work in the country, while deferring deportation.

TPS has been in effect in different forms since 1990, and grants a work permit and allowance to remain in the United States to citizens of designated countries that have undergone natural or man-made disasters.

A second Democratic aide characterized the offer from Trump as “non-serious product.”

“Dems were not consulted on this and have rejected similar overtures previously,” the aide said. “It’s clearly a non serious product of negotiations amongst [White House] staff to try to clean up messes the president created in the first place. [The president] is holding more people hostage for his wall.”  

To get Trump’s proposal through the Senate, McConnell will need to win over at least seven Democratic senators as well as keep his own caucus united.

Though several Democrats have been taking part in bipartisan negotiations with a group of GOP senators including Graham, Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), none have yet said they would be willing to support Trump’s idea.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has been taking part in the bipartisan groups, said earlier Saturday that Democrats were firmly behind their stance that the government first had to be reopened.

Kaine warned that agreeing to take up a deal before the government is reopened “would accelerate the use of shutdown as a negotiating tool.”

“We’ve got to reopen the government first,” he told The Hill. “If we can get government reopen I’m absolutely convinced that there’s a deal here.”

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), who is from a state Trump won in 2016, added that Trump has to reopen the government first.

“President Trump must end the shutdown he created and open the government. Once the government is reopened, Democrats and Republicans can talk about a range of ways to secure the border and reform our immigration system,” he said in a tweet.

In addition to the uphill battle to win over Democrats, Republicans could also face criticism from some members of their own base, who will pressure them to oppose making any immigration deal with Democrats.

Trump has previously signaled he was open to making an immigration deal with Congress only to retreat to his hard-line positions amid criticism from conservative pundits and his base.

He immediately came under fire on Saturday from some on the right.

Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter characterized his offer as an “amnesty deal.”

“Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!” she said in a tweet, referring to failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

Roy Beck, the president of NumbersUSA, said that Trump’s proposal is “a loser for the forgotten American workers who were central to his campaign promises.”

“An amnesty-for-wall trade would once again reward previous immigration lawbreakers without preventing future immigration lawbreakers,” he said. “This kind of amnesty deal will incentivize more caravans, more illegal border crossers and more visa overstayers at the expense of the most vulnerable American workers who have to compete with the illegal labor force.”

Updated: 5:33 p.m.

Tags Bob Casey Charles Schumer Dick Durbin Donald Trump Jared Kushner Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Nita Lowey Susan Collins Tim Kaine
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