Senators Worry McConnell Promise On DACA Not Firm Enough To End Shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., discusses the GOP agenda for next year and touts his accomplishments in the first year of the Trump Administration, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. The six-term Kentucky lawmaker will face an even slimmer GOP majority, 51 Republicans to 49 Democrats, in January when Alabama Democrat Doug Jones is seated. Two other long-serving Republicans, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, have been sidelined with health issues. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

As the scramble to end the government shutdown dragged into the work week Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urged senators in both parties to vote to fund the government until Feb. 8, and accept a loose promise from him to bring a bill to the floor that would address the status of the 700,000 young immigrants whose protections President Trump revoked last year, even if they don’t have an agreement with the White House or the House.

But, citing McConnell’s promises last year for votes on health care and immigration that were never honored, lawmakers in both parties say McConnell needs to offer something more concrete.

“I hope and intend that we can reach bipartisan solutions on issues such as military spending, immigration, and border security and disaster relief before the Feb. 8 deadline,” McConnell said. “Should these issues not be resolved by the time the funding bill before us expires, so long as the government remains open, it would be my intention to take up legislation here in the Senate that would address DACA, border security and related issues.”

McConnell further promised that the future immigration debate would have a “level playing field” where senators from both parties could offer amendments.

Coming out of a meeting of bipartisan rank-and-file senators, many Democrats signaled that they weren’t sure they’re ready to supporting Monday’s bill, suggesting they need an even firmer commitment from McConnell that the Senate will act on immigration even if the House and the White House can’t come to a broader agreement.

Even the key Republicans leading the bipartisan talks acknowledged that stronger language from McConnell could be helpful, as long as Democrats show that’s what will get them to yes.

“If I were a Democrat, I would talk go to [Minority] Leader [Chuck] Schumer and say, ‘If you can get the Majority Leader to be a little bit more explicit, I am ready to open up the government,'” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters after the meeting.

The Senate Democratic conference is gathering at 11 a.m. ET. McConnell in his floor remarks reiterated his plans to hold a vote on a three-week spending bill at noon ET.

With Graham and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who both voted to close down the government on Friday, saying they’ll support the funding bill up for a vote Monday, McConnell will need to pick up seven Democrats to meet the 60-vote threshold to advance the legislation.