On Sunday, the White House asked congressional Democrats to accept two and a half years of legal protections for DREAMers, or young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in return for $25 billion for President Trump's border wall, Politico reports. Democrats countered with $25 billion for the wall and border security in return for permanent protection for 1.8 million DREAMers, not just through September 2020, and the White House balked. The omnibus spending package that must pass this week might be Trump's last best chance to get funding for his border wall this year, or ever if Democrats take control of Congress — and on Monday, three organizations supported by conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch urged Trump to take the offer.
Brent Gardner at Americans for Prosperity called the Democrats' proposal "an offer all parties should immediately accept," and Daniel Garza at the LIBRE Initiative said "Congress and the White House should seize this chance." Nathan Nascimento, an executive vice president at the Freedom Partners chamber of commerce, said that "if a deal was on the table that offered both security at the border and permanent status for DREAMers, that's a deal that Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump should support. We cannot continue to allow politics to stand in the way of finding a solution to this problem."
Trump did not seem to be interested late Monday, however.
The Democrats do not want to help DACA. Would be so easy to make a deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2018
Trump ended the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last fall, setting March 5 as the end of the temporary protection for DREAMers, but federal courts have stayed his order for now. Peter Weber
The Senate begins debate on immigration legislation this week, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announcing he supports President Trump's "fair compromise" for 1.8 million immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known colloquially as DREAMers. The "compassionate resolution" would give DREAMers legal protections but limit other forms of legal immigration, a nonstarter for Democrats, CNBC reports.
The Secure and Succeed Act of 2018, introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), perhaps is the closest proposal to what has been requested by Trump. The bill would "provide a path to citizenship for ... [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] beneficiaries, but also allocate $25 billion for border security, eliminate the diversity visa lottery, and drastically curtail so-called 'chain migration,' limiting family-based immigrant visas to spouses and unmarried children younger than 18," Time writes.
"Republicans want to make a deal and Democrats say they want to make a deal," Trump tweeted Tuesday, adding: "This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th." As Politico notes: "March 5 is not the deadline anymore, as a federal judge has blocked the termination of DACA" an injunction that likely won't get lifted until late spring. Jeva Lange
House rules limit members to 1 minute of speaking time, but nevertheless, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) persisted on Wednesday, using a loophole for congressional leaders to talk uninterrupted for 8 hours and 10 minutes. That crushed the previous House record, a 5 hour, 15 minute harangue against tariff legislation by Rep. James Beauchamp "Champ" Clark (D-Mo.) in 1909.
And Clark fell short in other ways, too, Georgetown University congressional rules expert Joshua Huder tells The Washington Post. "It's important to note that although Clark held the floor for the duration, he was repeatedly interrupted during his remarks." Pelosi, the Post notes, "barely took time to unwrap a mint several hours in and was not interrupted once."
Pelosi spoke about DREAMers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — from stories she collected starting Wednesday morning, and she threw in Bible verses and demands for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to allow debate on legislation to protect DREAMers, just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has committed to. "Why should we in the House be treated in such a humiliating way when the Republican Senate leader has given that opportunity in a bipartisan way to his membership?" Pelosi asked. "There's something wrong with this picture." She said she won't support a budget deal that doesn't deal with the DREAMer issue.
Pelosi, 77, had to stand for the duration of her speech and could not use the restroom, and she wasn't wearing comfortable shoes:
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) February 7, 2018
It wasn't a filibuster, as the House banned those in the 1890s, The Washington Post recounts. Senate filibusters can go quite long — the record for a one-person filibuster is still held by the late Strom Thrumond, who spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes to (unsuccessfully) try to block the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Peter Weber
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) believed they secured a meeting with President Trump on Thursday to go over their bipartisan immigration plan with the four other senators negotiating the deal, two Democrats and two Republicans. But when they arrived, immigration hardliners like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) were in the Oval Office, because White House adviser Stephen Miller "was concerned there could be a deal proposed that was too liberal and made sure conservative lawmakers were present," The Washington Post reports.
"Trump had seemed amenable to a deal earlier in the day during phone calls with lawmakers," the Post says, citing aides, but he "shifted his position in the meeting and did not seem interested in the bipartisan compromise." Most infamously, Trump rejected the idea of protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and several African countries, calling them "shithole countries" and specifically nixing Haiti. "Why do we need more Haitians?" Trump reportedly said. "Take them out." The meeting got "salty" on all sides, a White House official told the Post. "It did not go well."
One of the main pillars of the bipartisan plan, and its impetus, was a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The plan offers a 12-year path to citizenship for DREAMers, young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children. Protecting DREAMers is really popular — 86 percent of U.S. voters, including 76 percent of Republicans, want the DREAMers to stay in the U.S., according to a new Quinnipiac poll.
Other parts of the bipartisan plan are more contentions, with liberals opposed to the $1.6 billion for planning and building Trump's border wall and conservatives opposed to any path to citizenship. It "has been viewed as the legislation that has the best chance of success on Capitol Hill," Politico reports, though another bipartisan group of four top lawmakers is focusing more narrowly on the DREAMers issue. Peter Weber
President Trump meets Tuesday with Republicans and Democrats to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which increasingly appears to be the make-or-break piece of this month's must-pass spending deal, CNN reports.
Republicans say Democrats won't budge on a budget unless the 800,000 "DREAMers" brought to the United States illegally as children are protected from deportation. "Why won't Democratic leadership negotiate with us?" Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Monday, as reported by Politico. "Because we refuse to simply pass the DREAM Act, as is, with no proportional border security and interior enforcement measures."
Democrats, on the other hand, accuse Republicans of using DREAMers as a bargaining chip to advance their agenda to build a border wall and curb immigration. Insiders are pessimistic about the possibilities of reaching a long-term budget deal, and a government shutdown looms just 10 days away. "It's a mess," said one person involved in the negotiations. Jeva Lange
Paul Ryan is reportedly planning to squeeze a DACA deal into the December spending bill, infuriating some Trump allies
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has privately told colleagues that he is planning to loop a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into the December spending bill, HuffPost reports. The Trump administration announced in September that it was ending DACA, which protects individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but he first allowed a six-month reprieve so Congress could attempt to solve the issue with legislation.
Ryan "did make reference that [DACA provisions] would be something that might be part of the whole ball of wax," Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.) told HuffPost. The decision could mean a huge legislative win for Democrats, especially since Republicans do not have the votes to pass the December omnibus bill all on their own. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has additionally said that she would consider voting against a spending deal in order to negotiate a DACA decision.
Several of Trump's biggest supporters have expressed public displeasure with the idea that the president is willing to protect immigrants after all. On Wednesday, the Stephen Bannon-led Breitbart News criticized Ryan for his potential willingness to work with Democrats on immigration. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) warned simply that Ryan "better not."
Still, "there is some risk in taking Ryan's comments too seriously," HuffPost cautions. "What he means by DACA could differ greatly from what Democrats want or believe is an acceptable solution." Read why Damon Linker doesn't believe Congress will save DACA here at The Week. Jeva Lange
Shortly after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) dined with President Trump on Wednesday night, the Democratic leaders released a statement saying the group had "agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly." Pelosi and Schumer said the deal would exchange amnesty for border security measures "excluding the wall."
Trump had announced earlier this month he was ending the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which grants work authorization to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, after first allowing a six-month reprieve so Congress could attempt to solve the issue with legislation. Several of his biggest supporters were publicly displeased with the idea that Trump had reportedly agreed to protect these illegal immigrants after all — especially if it came at the expense of the ever-touted border wall.
Among them were prominent Iowa Republicans Rep. Steve King and Sen. Chuck Grassley. King in particular has been an ardent defender of Trump's, but on Wednesday lamented that "no promise" the president makes "is credible":
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) September 14, 2017
Grassley, on the other hand, accused the president of having "undercut" the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley chairs:
@realDonaldTrump Morn news says u made deal w Schumer on DACA/hv ur staff brief me/ I know u undercut JudiCimm effort 4 biparty agreement
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) September 14, 2017
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Trump had "certainly not agreed" to ditch the border wall, and Trump himself tweeted Thursday that the wall — now taking the form of "new renovation of old and existing fences" — would "continue to be built."
Meanwhile, other Republicans were not so moved by the Trump-supporting lawmakers' hurt feelings. Kimberly Alters
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) September 14, 2017