GOP senators skeptical of DACA deal in funding bill
Posted by Jordain Carney on 14th March 2018

This post was originally published on The Hill - Senate News

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Senate Republicans on Wednesday appeared skeptical that a deal on a key Obama-era immigration program will end up in a mammoth government funding bill despite reports of an 11th-hour push by the White House.

“I don’t see — this [omnibus] has got lots of moving parts associated with it. … I think it’s going to be a heavy lift in light of all the other elements,” GOP Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, said of a possible deal to include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) provisions in a funding proposal. 

Asked if he had heard about a potential agreement on the DACA program, he said with a laugh: “Well, I see there’s statements by the president about it.” 

It was reported by The Washington Post earlier Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out ‘subversion’ at VA MORE was open to a deal for “Dreamers,” immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, in a government funding package in exchange for money for a proposed border wall. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ MORE (R-Texas) — the Senate majority whip who has been in the center of the immigration fight — also shot down including a DACA-border security agreement in next week’s government funding bill.

“I don’t,” he said when asked if he saw the immigration program being included. He added that he didn’t think Congress could reach an agreement.

Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah told The Associated Press that while the administration continues to negotiate on DACA, it would oppose a three-year extension in exchange for three years of border security funding.

Asked about a possible deal, Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeFlorida shooting reopens CDC gun research debate House GOP pushes hard-line immigration plan as Senate deals fail Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE (R-Okla.), a senior House appropriator, quipped: “I’ve heard what I’ve read about it.”

The uncertainty comes as lawmakers have until March 23 to pass the mammoth funding bill and prevent the third government shutdown of the year. Lawmakers are scrambling to wrap up negotiations with several issues still under discussion.

GOP senators said the immigration issue did not come up during a closed-door caucus lunch on Wednesday.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence ‘give me hope’ Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker’s aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were ‘actors’ MORE (R-Fla.) appeared skeptical, noting lawmakers would be hearing more about such an agreement if it was in play.

“I don’t know if that’s something we’re going to be able to do on the omni,” he said.  “[Is it] possible? Sure, if it’s part of the [omnibus]. … But being possible and being the right thing are two separate things.”

Sen. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsCongress fails miserably: For Asian-Americans, immigration proposals are personal attacks Florida shooting reopens CDC gun research debate Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (R-S.D.) said, “I have seen nothing of substance yet.”

The debate over DACA has largely stalemated since the Senate rejected three proposals, including the White House framework, last month.

And a March 5 deadline, established when the Trump administration announced it was ending the program last year, came and passed with no action from Congress. The program currently remains in place while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reviews a U.S. district court injunction barring the administration from ending the program.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March Outgoing GOP rep: Republican Party ‘heading into trouble’ in election MORE (R-Ariz.) has twice tried to pass legislation that included a three-year DACA extension for three years of border security funding. He was blocked twice by Republican colleagues, including as recently as Tuesday.

Flake noted that aside from the Post report, he was in the dark, but would reach out to Vice President Pence, who he has previously called to talk immigration policy with.

GOP Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordAfter Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward GOP senator: ‘The problem is not owning an AR-15’ Sunday shows preview: Russian charges, Florida shooting dominate coverage MORE (Okla.) said following The Washington Post report that a three-year deal “fails to provide long-term certainty for our national security or immigrant families. We need to pursue a permanent solution now.” 

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said he heard “three different versions” of what the White House is offering.

“My only sources are reporters and you know how shaky that is,” he said.

He added that the president was “totally unreliable,” but he is “grasping at straws to find something to help these [DACA recipients].”

He added lawmakers “haven’t reached a final agreement” about if any border wall funding will be included. 

Updated: 4:38 p.m.