WASHINGTON – Apparently, it didn’t work.
President Donald Trump’s offer to extend protections for some young immigrants in exchange for border wall funding and possibly bring an end to the partial government shutdown was immediately shot down by congressional Democrats who called the proposal “inadequate” and predicted it wouldn’t pass either the House or the Senate.
Even before Trump officially made his speech and put protections for young immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on the bargaining table, Democrats denounced the offer, saying it wasn’t enough to end the historic 28-day shutdown.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Trump’s proposal “unacceptable” and said it was a “non-starter’ that wouldn’t pass in Congress.
She said the offer did not “represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives,” especially since the president’s proposal only offered temporary solutions for DREAMers, undocumented immigrants brought to the country before their 18th birthday.
“It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter,” Pelosi said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., dismissed Trump’s offer as “not a compromise but more hostage taking.”
“It’s clear the president realizes that by closing the government and hurting so many American workers and their families, he has put himself and the country in an untenable position,” Schumer said. “Unfortunately, he keeps putting forward one-sided and ineffective remedies. There’s only way out: open up the government, Mr. President, and then Democrats and Republicans can have a civil discussion and come up with bipartisan solutions.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, one of the co-sponsors of the Bridge Act, legislation that extends protections DREAMers for three years, said he wasn’t ready to support the measure and cast doubt over whether Republicans would agree to such terms.
“First, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell must open the government today,” said Durbin, D-Ill., “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.”
Other Democrats echoed Durbin’s thoughts and added the House would not pass a bill that includes $5.7 billion in “wasteful” spending for a border wall.
“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,” said one Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity to await the president’s speech. “He’s holding more people hostage for his wall.”
A senior House Democratic aide said the proposal would not pass the House or Senate, in part because “it includes the same wasteful, ineffective $5.7 billion wall demand that shut down the government in the first place.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Trump’s offer “a bold solution” to reopen the government, secure the border and take bipartisan steps toward addressing immigration issues.
“Compromise in divided government means that everyone can’t get everything they want every time,” he said. “The president’s proposal reflects that. It strikes a fair compromise by incorporating priorities from both sides of the aisle.”
Unlike previous bills, McConnell said, Trump’s proposal could break the impasse that led to the government shutdown and said he plans to put the proposal on the floor for a vote this week.
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While Democrats seemed resistant to Trump’s plan, experts say his move shifts pressure from the White House and Republicans to Democrats, who for years have been advocating for boosted protections for immigrant children.
“This forces the Democrats to decide whether they hate Trump more than they love the DREAMers,” said Scott Jennings, a conservative political com who worked in the White House under President George W. Bush and is a former McConnell aide.
Jennings said Trump “appears to be putting a legitimate offer on the table, and Democrats appear to have no interest in negotiating an end to the shutdown.
“Why reject this offer out of hand?” he asked. “Pelosi said Trump’s offer is not in good faith. If that’s her position, how does the shutdown ever end? I think Trump made a wise move today that gives everyone something—border security, DREAMer protections, humanitarian aid. Most reasonable people think stalemates end when negotiations lead to solutions in which everyone wins, But what is the win for Pelosi? To solve a problem, or to please her base?”
Jacob Neiheisel, an associate professor of political science at the University of Buffalo, said what happens next will revolve around how the public perceives Trump’s announcement and the Democratic response.
“I think it was a publicity stunt but it does aim to put Democrats in a bad position that they’re not budging at all,” Neiheisel said. “This is all a blame game, so it all will depend on whose blame game is better.”
But, he added, Trump is unlike normal presidents and politicians and could hold out even if he continues to get heat for the shutdown.
“It’s anyone’s guess what happens next,” he said.
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