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Democrats are signaling they will reject a forthcoming proposal from President Trump to link border money to temporary protections for some undocumented immigrants as a path out of the partial government shutdown.
Trump, according to multiple reports, is expected to publicly ask for $5.7 billion for the border in exchange for a temporary extension of protected status for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients and some Temporary Protected Status holders.
But Democratic aides, rank-and-file members and Democratic leadership are quickly panning the floated proposal ahead of its expected release on Saturday afternoon, making it unlikely Trump’s pitch will break the weeks-long shutdown stalemate.
“First, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell must open the government today. Second, I cannot support the proposed offer as reported and do not believe it can pass the Senate. Third, I am ready to sit down at any time after the government is opened and work to resolve all outstanding issues,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat.
Democratic leadership was not consulted on the forthcoming White House proposal, according to two aides, who both noted that Democrats had previously rejected similar ideas.
“Similar inadequate offers from the Administration were already rejected by Democrats. The BRIDGE Act does not fully protect Dreamers and is not a permanent solution,” said a senior House Democratic aide.
“This is not a compromise as it includes the same wasteful, ineffective $5.7 billion wall demand that shut down the government in the first place,” the aide added.
The BRIDGE Act, as previously introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Durbin, would allow “Dreamers” – immigrants who came to the country illegally as children – to get up to three years of “provisional protected presence” and the ability work in the United States. The proposal was meant to be a patch while Congress worked out a broader immigration deal.
A second Democratic aide characterized the forthcoming offer from Trump as “non-serious product.”
“Dems were not consulted on this and have rejected similar overtures previously. It’s clearly a non serious product of negotiations amongst [White House] staff to try to clean up messes the president created in the first place. [The President] is holding more people hostage for his wall,” the aide said.
Trump’s offer comes on Day 29 of the partial government shutdown, which is impacting roughly a quarter of the government and forced approximately 800,000 federal employees to either be furloughed or work without pay.
The White House has been trying to build a wedge between Democratic leadership and moderate members as they hunt for an exit strategy. Trump’s proposal is the latest effort by the administration to try to put pressure on lawmakers after multiple polls have shown a majority of Americans blame the president for the shutdown.
But rank-and-file members have shown no signs of breaking away from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Minority Leader Charles Schumer who have remained in close coordination throughout the weeks-long funding fight.
The House senior Democratic aide added on Saturday that the White House offer “cannot pass the House or Senate.”
“The President must agree to re-open government and join Democrats to negotiate on border security measures that work and not an expensive and ineffective wall that the President promised Mexico would pay for,” the aide added.
Though Republicans control the Senate, they need at least seven Democratic senators to get their plan over a 60-vote filibuster. But Democrats showed no signs of breaking from Schumer, who has taken to the Senate floor repeatedly to urge Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reopen the government before they negotiate on the border demands.
Democratic senators, who appeared in the dark about what exactly Trump will offer, signaled on Saturday that they were standing by that demand.
Sen. Tim Kaine noting he had heard contradictory rumors about what the president will say, said agreeing to take up a deal before the government is reopened “would accelerate the use of shutdown as a negotiating tool.”
“We’ve got to reopen the government first,” he told The Hill. “If we can get government reopen I’m absolutely convinced that there’s a deal here.”
Sen. Brian Schatz added in a tweet that “if we open up the government I am open to negotiations. But if we reward this behavior it will never end, and the pain and chaos will be worse in the future.”