President Donald Trump on Saturday proposed an immigration deal to end the government shutdown, though Democratic leaders quickly declared his overture dead on arrival.
In an address from the White House, the president proposed a bill providing temporary protection for some undocumented immigrants along with other measures in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for his border wall. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the bill will come up for a vote in the coming week, testing Democratic unity on exchanging border security funding for protections for young immigrants and refugees.
“I am here today to break the logjam and provide congress with a pathway forward to end the government shutdown,” Trump said in remarks from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room.
But the approach had already been rejected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats who said it largely repackaged a proposal that had failed earlier. Pelosi called the idea a “non-starter,” and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also panned the proposal as a way to reopen the government, even though Trump’s plan cribbed from Durbin’s own legislation.
The approach offered little hope for ending the government shutdown, which entered its fifth week Saturday. The Senate was in for fewer than two hours on Saturday, and then split until Tuesday, suggesting little urgency is afoot to reopen the government.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she was “skeptical” that the president’s latest approach will break the standstill in Washington on the shutdown’s 29th day.
“If there is something of substance that comes with his wall request, [Democrats] are willing to listen. But you can’t keep the government shut down while we work on it,” she said in an interview earlier Saturday. “The White House figures that the real leverage that they have is the fact that they’re holding the keys to this shutdown. And so if they release that?”