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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms Impeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill 'Saturday Night Live' presents Trump impeachment hearings with 'pizzazz' of soap opera 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 TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report 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 MulvaneySondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report Schiff knocks Mulvaney over failure to testify in impeachment probe Lawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms MORE and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan met with a group of Senate Democrats this week, including Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Democratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement Pentagon watchdog declines to investigate hold on Ukraine aid MORE (Ill.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOn The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Overnight Defense: Trump, Erdogan confirm White House meeting | Public impeachment hearings set for next week | Top defense appropriator retiring MORE (N.H.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHarris introduces bill to prevent California wildfires Senate Democrats introduce Violence Against Women Act after bipartisan talks break down Harris shares video addressing staffers the night Trump was elected: 'This is some s---' 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 JohnsonImpeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP Johnson: Whistleblower 'exposed things that didn't need to be exposed' Sunday shows — Spotlight shifts to Sondland ahead of impeachment inquiry 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.