“Seems to me that Democrats are holding that deal hostage for a DACA negotiation and we are meeting at the White House tomorrow on a bipartisan basis with the President to see what that might look like,” said the Senate’s No. 2, Texas Republican John Cornyn. “But I think that’s going to make the January 19 date pretty hard to hit.”
“It’s a mess,” said one person directly involved in the negotiations.
A separate GOP aide said the broader environment for both parties simply “isn’t in a good place right now.”
“No wall,” said Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California. “Listen, I believe in border security. I think it’s very important that we have a secure border, but spending billions and billions of dollars on this wall because of a political promise and a campaign promise is ridiculous.”
What Tuesday’s meeting means
The meeting at the White House on Tuesday was expected to — at the very least — symbolize that Trump was growing more serious about finding a bipartisan resolution. But adding more tension to the anticipated meeting for Democrats is the fact the White House invited GOP lawmakers Democrats view as openly hostile to finding a consensus deal on DACA.
In the background, details are still being worked out on what a plan to help recipients of DACA would look like, and a bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers led by Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina continues to negotiate.
However, the tensions that existed in December but had been overcome with a holiday deadline are playing out in real time now between the two parties.
“I think this is going to be the flexion point where we get some things done or we don’t,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, said Monday afternoon on CNN.
On Capitol Hill, bipartisan talks have been ongoing for months and the group of senators led by Durbin and Graham acknowledge they need Trump to lay out clear priorities to move forward.
The bipartisan meeting at the White House on Tuesday comes after Trump met with Republicans last week at the White House and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona refused to attend, citing the lack of bipartisanship.
Also on the list Tuesday are a host of lawmakers who would be expected, including Durbin and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a 2013 immigration reform veteran. But the list also includes red state Democrats like Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Jon Tester of Montana, as well as Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, who frequently votes with Republicans on immigration and border issues — a sign that the White House is looking to pick off as many Democrats as it can even if it can’t work with the party’s key negotiators.
Flake told CNN he’s prepared to tell Trump on Tuesday that this DACA deal cannot include a whole host of immigration policy changes but instead has to be narrowly focused if Republicans want to succeed.
“This is not a comprehensive reform bill,” Flake said. “We can’t do one before March.”
More than one group pushing immigration plans
In addition to the bipartisan working group, conservatives including Cornyn and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa are having their own conversations, and Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma are also going to be at the White House on Tuesday.
The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus — including Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, a longtime DACA advocate — had also been working to reach a compromise that before the break was similar in concept to what the Senate group was working on.
And, as in the Senate, a group of more conservative Republican lawmakers are working on their own proposal, including House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul of Texas and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, which would be strongly to the right of most of the bipartisan compromises. Both men will also be at the White House on Tuesday.
CNN’s Ted Barrett and Dana Bash contributed to this report.
News credit : Cnn