Hoyer: Dems open to wall funding to secure DACA deal

Hoyer: Dems open to wall funding to secure DACA deal
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Democrats are willing to accept funding for President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE’s controversial border wall in exchange for "Dreamer" protections, the second-ranking House Democratic leader said Tuesday.

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerSteyer plans impeachment push targeting Democrats over recess The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment MORE (D-Md.), the minority whip, hammered the border-wall concept as an ineffective solution to illegal immigration, but he was nonetheless open to providing some wall funding as part of a bipartisan compromise to salvage the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump is trying to dismantle. 

“We have offered [wall funding] in the past,” Hoyer told reporters during his weekly press briefing in the Capitol. 

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“I think that would be something we certainly could negotiate.”

Trump made the construction of a “big, beautiful” border wall a centerpiece of his campaign, and has been increasingly frustrated that the GOP-controlled Congress has not secured the funding to realize his promise. 

Although the 2018 omnibus spending bill included $1.6 billion for border security, it doesn’t go toward new wall construction — and falls far short of the $25 billion Trump had initially demanded.

Last month, the president threatened to shut down the government at the end of September if Congress doesn’t deliver more funding for border security.

“That wall has started, we have 1.6 billion [dollars],” Trump said at a campaign rally in Michigan.

“We come up again on Sept. 28 and if we don’t get border security we will have no choice, we will close down the country because we need border security.”

Hoyer suggested that, as part of any wall compromise, Democrats would seek border funding in smaller increments than the $25 billion Trump has sought.

“It is something that ought to be looked at on an annual basis by the Appropriations Committee,” Hoyer said.

The wall debate arrives as the fight over the future of DACA is heating up on Capitol Hill, where more than a dozen Republicans have signed a discharge petition designed to force votes on several immigration bills against the wishes of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.) and GOP leaders. 

The resolution, championed by Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamEx-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm Crazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine Polling editor says news outlets should be more cautious calling elections MORE (R-Calif.), would force action on four separate bills, running across an ideological spectrum, to prevent the deportation of the roughly 700,000 immigrants without legal status who have benefited from DACA. 

Eighteen Republicans have signed the discharge petition; Denham needs seven more to endorse the document and force floor action — assuming all 193 House Democrats also sign on.

Hoyer on Tuesday predicted they would.

“I have reason to believe that the overwhelming majority — if not 100 percent — would sign it,” he said.

GOP supporters of the petition say several more GOP lawmakers are expected to endorse the effort this week. But it remains unclear if the numbers are high enough to force the issue to the floor.

Ryan and other party leaders, meanwhile, are scrambling to discourage any more Republicans from signing on, hoping to prevent high-profile votes in an election year on what is a highly divisive issue within the GOP.

“Going down a path and having some kind of a spectacle on the floor that just results in a veto doesn't solve a problem,” Ryan said last week, blasting the discharge petition process for empowering the minority Democrats.

Hoyer said Ryan appears “sympathetic to the objective” of saving DACA, since the Speaker had initially urged Trump not to rescind the program. But Hoyer also acknowledged the political difficulties facing GOP leaders as they seek to appease both the vulnerable Republicans with Hispanic-heavy districts — lawmakers like Denham — and the hard-line anti-DACA conservatives in their ranks. 

“I don’t think the Speaker wants those alternatives on the floor because I think he doesn’t want Republicans to vote on them, one way or the other,” Hoyer said.