McConnell: Trump’s support key for immigration legislation
No immigration bill is coming to the floor until President Trump voices his support for a specific deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday.
McConnell is presiding over a caucus where members have some disagreements over border security and a deal to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with legislation.
While most Republicans support tougher border restrictions, they disagree on a number of details on how to deal with immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.
Trump has also given conflicting signals in the past week over what he will support.
“I’m looking for something that President Trump supports, and he has not yet indicated what measure he is willing to sign,” McConnell told reporters Wednesday. “As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels.”
A bipartisan group of senators is expected to introduce legislation on Wednesday that would pair a fix for the DACA program along with border security.
But Trump has shot down the proposal, telling Reuters on Wednesday that it is “horrible” on border security and includes “very, very weak” changes to legal immigration.
Trump took a tougher line on a potential deal at a White House meeting last week after signaling some flexibility at an earlier meeting, at which he even suggested he could sign whatever bill Congress sends him.
Leadership in both parties — as well as White House chief of staff John Kelly and Marc Short, the director of legislative affairs — met Wednesday as part of DACA talks but failed to reach an agreement.
Asked if a majority of the Senate GOP caucus needs to support any deal, McConnell noted that both sides are working to try to get an outcome.
“What I want to see is an outcome, and an outcome involves the signature of the president. … So what I’m waiting for in terms of making a decision about floor time is are we dealing with an issue that has a chance to become law,” he said.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who took part in the meeting with Kelly, questioned Wednesday how Democrats could know what Trump would support if the Senate GOP leader doesn’t.
“If he doesn’t know, it’s hard for me to know,” Durbin said.