Hill scrambled once again by White House's mixed messaging on immigration

Capitol Hill Republicans were scrambling Wednesday to figure out what exactly the White House was asking for on immig...

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 12:05 AM

Capitol Hill Republicans were scrambling Wednesday to figure out what exactly the White House was asking for on immigration and whether it would even be able to fit into an already-complicated and politically fraught spending bill negotiation.

It all started with a Washington Post story that chronicled how the White House had told some congressional leaders it was open to trading a few years of border wall money for a few years of protections for recipients of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, a more modest proposal than what they pushed for earlier this year when they also said they wanted major changes to the country's legal immigration system.

The idea, according to a Republican source who spoke with CNN, was to see if it could be put in an omnibus spending bill later this month needed to keep the government open.

But the story shifted quickly and by late Wednesday afternoon, it had all evolved.

"We've seen that before," Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican lamented Wednesday afternoon.

Flake said he had tried to reach out directly to Vice President Mike Pence to try and get clarity on what the White House was asking for.

Top Senate Republicans quickly expressed concerns with tacking a controversial issue like immigration onto the must-pass bill. After all the issue divided Republicans and Democrats for years and adding it at the 11th hour to an already delicate funding measure could spell trouble for all sides.

Asked if he expected an immigration bill to be tacked onto the spending bill, No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn said simply "I don't."

Sen. John Thune, another member of GOP leadership, said the maneuver would be a "pretty heavy lift."

"I would be open to (DACA) if it were the right fix," Thune said. "I suspect at this point it's a pretty heavy lift."

'Grasping at straws'

Many members on the hill said they were just getting updates about the floated proposal from reporters peppering them with questions.

"My only sources are reporters," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said as he explained he'd just heard of the plan.

In the wake of an unsuccessful floor debate on immigration earlier this year, Democrats were especially cautious about undergoing another trust fall with the White House on immigration. Asked if he could even trust Trump at this point on immigration, Durbin said the President was "totally unreliable."

"But, I'm grasping at straws," Durbin said noting he was looking for any way he could to help the DACA population.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate's minority leader, just declined to answer questions about reports that Trump might be open to a narrow deal.

"Not commenting," Schumer said.

While the mixed messages are partly a factor of Trump's own repeated reversals on the issue, it was also an illustration of the narrow tightrope that any immigration deal must walk -- one that lawmakers have a shrinking appetite to take on.

Conservative House Republicans have been adamant that Speaker Paul Ryan not attach any deal to the omnibus and scoff that even a narrow temporary fix for DACA is worth swallowing for only modest border security funding. Democrats, meanwhile, have been reticent to agree to a temporary fix that doesn't include a path to citizenship for DACA recipients -- they say a matter of moral imperative as well as political leverage.

By Wednesday afternoon, a White House official confirmed it has signaled a willingness to negotiate a narrower deal that would fulfill the core objectives of getting border wall funding and a DACA solution.

"It's true that we're still pushing very hard for a DACA deal and are willing to be flexible about getting there, if we can get a deal on the omnibus," this senior White House official said.

The official said the White House was still gunning for a deal that would be broader than a 1-for-1 deal on the border wall and DACA, but one that could be "narrower" than a bill the White House supported earlier this year.

Officially ...

Officially, the White House released a statement saying they didn't support a deal that would give three years of DACA protections for three years of border wall funding.

"The White House opposes a so-called three-for-three deal," White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement on Wednesday. "In fact, as a result of the caps deal, the routine appropriations process should yield wall funding in the omnibus. Securing the border is one of the most vital functions of government and is a core part of any routine funding bill."

Shah later told reporters that the White House is part of "ongoing negotiations on the issue of immigration" and are part of those negotiations "along the terms that have been very publicly and well-discussed."

The White House has long called for an immigration deal that fixes the DACA program, funds Trump's trademark border wall and tightens restrictions around legal immigration programs.

"If there were a deal cut and it could be added to the omnibus, we would welcome that, but right now what was reported as a three-for-three deal is not something this White House" could support, Shah said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 664446

Reported Deaths: 12663
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion909511650
Lake48568884
Allen36004640
Hamilton32182398
St. Joseph30166513
Elkhart25453419
Vanderburgh21300382
Tippecanoe20143203
Johnson16407361
Porter16042276
Hendricks15877300
Clark12018181
Madison11776319
Vigo11660231
Monroe10379163
Delaware9870179
LaPorte9802198
Howard9083199
Kosciusko8582111
Bartholomew7488147
Warrick7438151
Hancock7428133
Floyd7243170
Wayne6648192
Grant6446157
Boone610989
Morgan6106126
Dubois5925112
Dearborn549969
Cass547299
Marshall5439105
Henry542594
Noble510578
Jackson465167
Shelby461991
Lawrence4193113
Harrison402564
Gibson402083
Clinton396753
Montgomery389683
DeKalb387178
Knox357885
Miami357863
Whitley350237
Huntington347377
Steuben339555
Wabash332676
Putnam331260
Ripley327862
Adams324749
Jasper318143
White297952
Jefferson295874
Daviess285696
Fayette272156
Decatur271188
Greene262080
Posey261431
Wells258675
Scott251350
LaGrange241870
Clay241444
Randolph225676
Spencer218930
Jennings216344
Washington212827
Sullivan203639
Fountain202142
Starke189051
Owen183253
Fulton179837
Jay178528
Carroll176619
Perry173736
Orange171250
Rush165322
Vermillion161442
Franklin159635
Tipton148441
Parke140016
Pike128233
Blackford120727
Pulaski107344
Newton96632
Brown95140
Benton92213
Crawford91713
Martin80314
Warren75914
Switzerland7558
Union67510
Ohio54011
Unassigned0432

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 974480

Reported Deaths: 16750
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1125851214
Cuyahoga964441832
Hamilton736841034
Montgomery47424903
Summit40474802
Butler35678505
Lucas35588685
Stark29495803
Warren22510271
Lorain22111414
Mahoning19532537
Lake18471318
Clermont18459201
Delaware16537116
Licking15037189
Fairfield14587180
Trumbull14381413
Greene13626218
Medina13448226
Clark12319248
Wood11604163
Portage11078164
Allen10804216
Richland10334183
Miami10048189
Muskingum8204112
Columbiana8160200
Pickaway8079107
Tuscarawas8063227
Marion8006125
Wayne7898193
Erie6925140
Ross6161128
Geauga6097136
Hancock6013116
Ashtabula5993152
Scioto597780
Lawrence527218
Union515237
Darke5040114
Belmont497659
Huron4838107
Jefferson4814107
Sandusky4785108
Seneca4709107
Washington470991
Athens465447
Mercer459180
Auglaize456480
Shelby442479
Knox4045101
Putnam400090
Madison394253
Ashland381381
Fulton381258
Defiance372983
Brown372244
Crawford359096
Logan356072
Preble353678
Clinton341152
Highland328649
Ottawa324869
Williams302962
Jackson290745
Champaign289249
Guernsey288444
Perry270447
Fayette269441
Morrow260934
Henry247058
Hardin246558
Holmes243493
Coshocton238054
Van Wert230154
Gallia223131
Adams217436
Pike216026
Wyandot211747
Hocking194754
Carroll181641
Paulding160530
Meigs135930
Noble129333
Monroe116927
Morgan101119
Harrison100724
Vinton76613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 29°
Angola
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 26°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 27°
Fort Wayne
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 29°
Lima
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 22°
Sunny & Seasonal Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events