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Centrist Dems urge Pelosi to break shutdown stalemate

In the letter, centrist House Democrats ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow the appropriate panels to consider Trump’s wall request after the government is open. | AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

A group of centrist House Democrats, eager to end the shutdown and sick of political posturing, is pressing Speaker Nancy Pelosi to counter President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal with her own potential compromise.

The group, led by Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, is asking the California Democrat to offer Trump a vote on his border wall sometime in February if he signs a bill reopening the federal government, according to a draft copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO.

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“We understand that this shutdown was not caused by the 116th Congress, but it is our job to fix it,” the letter reads, detailing the hit the shutdown has had on federal workers as well as the economy.

Trump has already panned a similar idea proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of his top allies in the upper chamber. However, the letter, being circulated among some lawmakers from red or swing districts, illustrates the pressure they are under to end the shutdown.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have vowed not to negotiate on Trump’s border wall with Mexico until the president reopens the government but that afterward they are open to talks. They’ve contended that doing so would reward “bad behavior” or “hostage taking.“

Looking to force Democrats to come to the table, Trump over the weekend proposed coupling border wall money with three years of deportation relief for young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers as well as a reprieve for immigrants who came to the U.S. from war torn nations.

Democratic leaders immediately rejected the offer, but rank-and-file Democrats may feel compelled to respond with a counter-proposal.

Meanwhile, furloughed federal workers are facing a second missed paycheck on Friday. Some have struggled to pay their rent or their mortgages; others, including 10 percent of TSA agents this weekend, are calling in sick citing an inability to work for free.

The standoff reached its 32nd day on the anniversary of the last shutdown, when Democrats refused to vote for funding bills until Dreamers were protected from deportation. At the time, the GOP resisted. Now it’s Republicans who are imploring their counterparts to negotiate on DACA with Democrats rebuffing them.

In the letter, the centrist Democrats ask Pelosi to allow the appropriate panels to consider Trump’s wall request after the government is open and ask Pelosi to “guarantee” a vote for the funding package on the House floor by the end of February.

The lawmakers also say the measure should be open to amendment to allow lawmakers to protect Dreamers and those currently in Temporary Protected Status — ensuring that Democrats would be able to put their stamp on any immigration and border security measure.

“We promised our constituents that we would seek bipartisan solutions, and we feel that this proposal would gain bipartisan support and allow a transparent process to evaluate the true needs of border security and provide much-needed reform to our immigration process,” the letter reads.

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