McConnell: 'Past time' for immigration-border security deal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders's momentum puts Democrats on edge House Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (R-Ky.) said Thursday that it is "way past time" for Congress to try to get a deal on border security and immigration.

"I think it's way past time, on both sides, that we sit down together and see what we could agree to to improve the situation — not only border security, but also the asylum laws are very challenging," McConnell said.

The GOP leader said it's "way past time for us to have an adult, bipartisan discussion about our immigration laws and see what we can agree to."

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His comments come as President TrumpDonald John TrumpAdvisor: Sanders could beat Trump in Texas Bloomberg rips Sanders over Castro comments What coronavirus teaches us for preventing the next big bio threat MORE has lashed out at Democrats over border security this week, saying in a tweet on Wednesday night that their actions on the issue were "treasonous." 

"What the Democrats are doing with the Border is TREASONOUS. Their Open Border mindset is putting our Country at risk. Will not let this happen!" Trump wrote in the tweet.

Despite the tweet, the White House has been quietly trying to reach out to Democrats to try to see if there is a path forward on immigration legislation.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyWhite House preparing to ask Congress for funds to combat coronavirus: report Tucker Carlson calls out Mick Mulvaney on immigration remarks: 'Dishonest and stupid' Trump furious after officials allowed Americans with coronavirus to fly home with other passengers: report MORE and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan met with a group of Senate Democrats this week, including Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOvernight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe MORE (Ill.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Trump under pressure to renew last nuke treaty with Russia MORE (N.H.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinCalifornia lawmakers mark Day of Remembrance for Japanese internment Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe House passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum MORE (Calif.).

McConnell added on Thursday that any immigration legislation should touch on not only border security but also changes to the asylum laws, adding that it would also have to be bipartisan.

The fresh talk about an immigration and border deal comes amid a shake-up at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in recent days, which has seen the departure of nearly all senior department officials over the past week.

"It can't all be solved by changing personnel, some of it requires changing the law. That means we have to deal with the Democrats. They're in the majority in the House," McConnell said Thursday.

Some GOP senators, including Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWhistleblower retaliation: Stop confusing unlawful attacks with politics Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (Wis.), have floated rolling out new legislation to deal with the asylum law and other migrants detained along the border.

McConnell, asked if he would be reaching out Democrats, predicted that they would see the comments he made Thursday during a pen-and-pad meeting with reporters at the Capitol.

"We talk to each other. And we all read what each other says and I just said how I felt about that," he said.

Asked if he would support opening the discussions up to comprehensive immigration reform — a tall legislative ask in an era of divided government where immigration has been deeply partisan — the GOP leader sidestepped.

"I'm willing to enter into a negotiation to see what we can do to fix the problems," he said.