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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration Biden and Bernie set for clash 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

His comments come as President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 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 MulvaneyNielsen was warned not to talk to Trump about new Russian election interference: report Oversight chair wants to hold ex-White House official in contempt Consumer bureau to give firms more info about investigations MORE and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan met with a group of Senate Democrats this week, including Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks McConnell: 'Past time' for immigration-border security deal MORE (Ill.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne Shaheen2020 Dems back repeal of controversial New Hampshire voting law New Hampshire senator to ask 2020 Dems to back repeal of state residency law Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 MORE (N.H.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDems reject Barr's offer to view Mueller report with fewer redactions Five takeaways from Mueller's report Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates 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 JohnsonGOP senator: 'No problem' with Mueller testifying The Hill's Morning Report — Category 5 Mueller storm to hit today GOP senators double down on demand for Clinton email probe documents 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.