Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that he’d bring an immigration bill to the floor if lawmakers and the Oval Office can find common ground.
The Kentucky politician claims a bipartisan group of legislators has been engaged with the White House over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The most recent rounds of discussion covered security, interior enforcement, and changes to the legal immigration system, reports Politico.com.
“If negotiators reach an agreement on these matters by the end of January, I will bring it to the Senate floor for a free-standing vote,” said McConnell. “I encourage those working on such legislation to develop a compromise that can be widely supported by both political parties and actually become law.”
McConnell’s announcement made it easier for Republicans to pass their end-of-the-year spending bill. A handful of liberal politicians threatened to drive the federal government into shutdown if a fix for DACA’s former recipients wasn’t included.
Rescinded by President Trump in September, DACA provided protection for illegal immigrants who’d arrived to the United States as children. Oftentimes, recipients were too young to remember their homeland, having spent the brunt of their formative years on American soil.
Among the meetings attendees was Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R), who seemed optimistic that lawmakers could provide a fix by January’s end.
“The meeting we had yesterday was a good step forward,” he said, speaking to reports last week. “Our biggest concern moving ahead with the bipartisan group was that we were negotiating without really knowing what would be acceptable to the White House in terms of the border portion of this, and we got a good idea.”
But Democrats like Sen. Dick Durbin (IL) aren’t sure what to expect from the Trump administration.
“They want everything imaginable and we’re going to have to bring them down to earth,” he said, while acknowledging both sides will have to cede some ground to strike a compromise.
Initially supportive of Democratic efforts to find a fix for Dreamers, President Trump reneged on his promises in Autumn. After striking a deal with top-ranking Democrats, the commander-in-chief spun a sudden about-face, demanding funding for an enhanced wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in exchange for protecting Dreamers from deportation.
But the issue doesn’t seem to be lingering on McConnell’s mind. The majority leader said shortly before passing the spending bill that DACA isn’t an issue to be resolved before the holidays begin.
“That’s a matter to discuss next year,” he said. “The president has given us until March to address this issue. We have plenty of time to do it.”
Whether a compromise can be reached remains to be seen. Despite positing himself as a master negotiator, President Trump has yielded little ground since October.
Hungry for a big victory after a year of few, the administration may try holding out.