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A temporary DACA fix for a permanent wall? Trump proposal gathers more Dem resistance

“It was disappointing to see Speaker Pelosi reject the offer before the president gave his speech,” Vice President Mike Pence said. | Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Save the Storks

Government Shutdown

‘The president is offering a solution and what we have from Democrats so far is just soundbites,’ Vice President Mike Pence says.

Updated

A day after President Donald Trump’s proposal to reopen the government put the ball back in Democrats’ court, some Republicans on Sunday said the offer should be viewed as a jumping off point for negotiations. But, Democrats continued to reject some of the deal’s key provisions, making it unclear what the next step will be.

Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday that Democrats’ rejection of the deal the White House offered this weekend aimed at ending the partial government shutdown was disappointing but hinted there was still room for negotiating.

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“There’s a legislative process that is going to begin on Tuesday in the United States Senate,” Pence said on “Fox News Sunday” of Trump’s offer.

The proposal that Trump laid out Saturday would include his $ 5.7 billion demand for a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border and funding for immigration judges, border personnel and other technology in exchange for a three year deportation reprieve for immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as minors as well as immigrants with temporary protected status.

In addition, Senate Republicans plan to include $ 12.7 billion in disaster aid and government funding through the end of the fiscal year in their bill to advance Trump’s immigration proposal.

The president’s plan will test Democrats’ solidarity, pitting border security funding against protections for young immigrants and refugees. Now, it will also force Democrats to vote against bipartisan funding levels, aid for disaster-hit communities and an extension of the Violence Against Women Act, according to a summary of the Senate plan, obtained by POLITICO.

Trump said Saturday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to put the president’s deal up for a vote this week. Democrats dismissed the offer — despite it containing legislation crafted in part by members of their caucus — demanding that the president reopen the government before they negotiate border security.

Asked why the White House had not taken that route, Pence cited the insistence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at a meeting weeks ago that she would not provide the president with funding for a border wall even if he agreed to open the government for another 30 days to allow for talks.

“It was disappointing to see Speaker Pelosi reject the offer before the president gave his speech,” Pence said. “The president is offering a solution and what we have from Democrats so far is just soundbites.”

Democrats have rejected the deal’s temporary TPS and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections, seeking a permanent fix for both programs. At the same time, Democrats refuse to fund a border wall they have maintained is expensive and inefficient.

The No. 3 House Democrat reiterated his party’s demands, while also offering a path out of the shutdown, contending that Trump’s proposal contained only half-hearted concessions.

“We would love to have a permanent fix for DACA and TPS just as he wants a permanent wall,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I think it’s a non-starter for him to ask for a permanent wall and for us to have a temporary fix.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

He noted that Democrats would be open to investments in detection technology like drones that could amount to a “smart wall” and that Trump has recently shifted his rhetoric away from asking for a concrete wall, which he applauded. But he continued to insist that Trump reopen the government before any of those issues could be broached.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) made that demand as well.

“Let me just also make clear that what the president proposed yesterday, increasing border security, looking at TPS, looking at, at the Dreamers, I’ll use that as a starting point,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But you’ve got to start by opening the government.“

Pence said Sunday that the White House had met with rank-and-file Democrats in order to lay out a “balanced, good faith compromise” and “set the table for a deal” with Democratic leadership and appeared to suggest that Democrats could offer changes in the Senate. The vice president also said that “of course” Trump is willing to negotiate further on the offer.

“What the president directed us to do, our negotiation team, was to reach out with rank and file Democrats in the House and in the Senate,” he said on “Face the Nation.” “What the president presented yesterday really is an effort to bring together ideas from both political parties.”

But while Pence suggested that Trump’s offer isn’t final, in addressing criticism of the proposal levied by immigration hardliners on the right he seemed to dismiss the possibility of granting Democrats’ demands.

“This is not amnesty, there’s no pathway to citizenship, there is no permanent status here at all, which is what amnesty contemplates,” Pence said of the DACA and TPS provisions in Trump’s offer, emphasizing that the president supports “temporary” relief.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Even as Democrats continued to stand their ground, congressional Republicans on Sunday applauded the president for putting forth the deal he did, criticizing their colleagues across the aisle for rejecting it while also shutting down the proposals some have countered with.

Trump’s offer “represents progress, not perfection,” Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-La.) said on “Face the Nation.”

But while Democrats have promised not to provide any funding for a border wall, he warned that “if you bring a plan to him that doesn’t include a wall, it’s dead as four o’clock.”

GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) echoed Pence’s insistence that the White House offer does not amount to amnesty for Dreamers or those with TPS, but would not commit to including such a proposal in negotiations to reopen the government.

“The president really wants to come to an agreement here,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “He has put offers on the table. The responsible thing for the Democrats to do is put a counteroffer on the table if you don’t like this one.”

Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to clarify his stance on amnesty: “No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”

The president also spent a chunk of the afternoon retweeting Pence and others supportive of his proposal,

While lawmakers debated the specifics of Trump’s proposition, one GOP senator broadly categorized the proposal as “a straw man proposal” that is not intended to become law.

“What I encouraged the White House to do and multiple others encouraged the White House to do is put out a proposal,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said during an interview with host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.”

“They’ve listened to a lot of Democrat and Republican members for the last month. They’ve heard all the demands, they know all the background on it,” said Lankford, a member of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Put out a straw man proposal. Get something out there the president can say, ‘I can support this’ — and has elements from both sides. Put it on the table, then open it up for debate.”

He continued: “The vote this week in the Senate is not to pass the bill, it is to open up and say: ‘Can we debate this? Can we amend it? Can we make changes?’”

When challenged about the lack of public Democratic support for the offer, the vice president blamed party leadership for tamping down dissent.

“We’ve had good conversations with Democrat members of the Senate but look, their leadership has discouraged them in the House and the Senate from engaging the administration so I want to respect those conversations,” he said.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Pence pushed back on host Chris Wallace’s suggestion that Democrats would ultimately vote down the compromise.

“I’m not sure that’s true, Chris,” he said. “I’m not sure that’s true. We’ve had a lot of dialogue.”

Pence played coy on whether he thought the package could garner the seven Democratic votes needed to pass in the Senate, telling Wallace, “We’ll see.”

Caitlin Emma and Quint Forgey contributed to this report.

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