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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.

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Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs | GOP bashes border, policing provisions Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists POW/MIA flag moved back atop White House MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisPelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report How Kamala Harris can find the solution for the migration crisis White House unveils official portraits of Biden and Harris MORE (D-Calif.), Cory BookerCory BookerThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally Top Democrat calling for expansion of child care support When it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, what's a moderate Democrat to do? MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Amazon wins union election — says 'our employees made the choice' On The Money: Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs | GOP bashes border, policing provisions Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists 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) TesterThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's infrastructure plan triggers definition debate Lawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan 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 ClintonPelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report Pence autobiography coming from Simon & Schuster Amanda Gorman makes the cover of Vogue 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 McCaskillThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden tasks Harris on border; news conference today Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality 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 SchumerChuck SchumerThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally H.R. 1/S. 1: Democrats defend their majorities, not honest elections McCarthy asks FBI, CIA for briefing after two men on terror watchlist stopped at border MORE (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe growing threat of China's lawfare Pelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' 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 FlakeFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Former GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' 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 BennetSenators press for answers in Space Command move decision Biden announces first slate of diverse judicial nominees American Rescue Plan: Ending child poverty — let's make it permanent MORE (D-Colo.) and Dick DurbinDick DurbinLawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Number of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports Grassley, Cornyn push for Senate border hearing 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyNumber of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports Grassley, Cornyn push for Senate border hearing The Hill's Morning Report - GOP pounces on Biden's infrastructure plan MORE (Iowa) and Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dakota Access pipeline to remain in operation despite calls for shutdown | Biden hopes to boost climate spending by B | White House budget proposes .4B for environmental justice 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet Number of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports 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 GrahamOvernight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike Sanders expresses 'serious concerns' with Biden's defense increase MORE (R-S.C.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings GOP senator recovering from surgery for prostate cancer Congress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured MORE (R-N.C.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordRubio and bipartisan group of senators push to make daylight saving time permanent Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many MORE (R-Okla.), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonMcConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists POW/MIA flag moved back atop White House 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 RyanTrump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world Boehner throws support behind Republican who backed Trump impeachment 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.