Senate Republican leaders are only giving the chamber Wednesday and Thursday to pass an immigration bill that would help the 700,000 young immigrants known as Dreamers whose protections President Trump terminated last year. As lawmakers scramble to whip votes on a growing pile of competing proposals and are frantically negotiating behind closed doors, the White House has once again thrown a wrench into the process.
In a statement Wednesday morning, President Trump suggested, as he did two weeks ago, that he would veto any plan other than a GOP-sponsored bill based on his own list of demands, including controversial provisions slashing legal immigration.
“I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars – that includes opposing any short-term ‘Band-Aid’ approach,” he said, referring to discussions in Congress about a one-year punt should all other options fail to pass.
On a call with reporters later Wednesday, White House officials shot down a bipartisan bill that has yet to be unveiled, produced by a large group of Senate moderates who have spent weeks hammering out a deal. That plan is expected to provide a path to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA-eligible immigrants, allocate $25 billion for border security and would ban DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents for legal status once they become citizens, but would otherwise leave alone the current family immigration system.
On the press call, senior administration officials derided the plan—which has yet to be introduced—as “worse than current law” and “not serious and not designed actually to become law.”
“Our proposal is the way to go. Other proposals that leave chain migration in place would just produce catastrophic surges of illegal immigration,” a senior administration official claimed.
Though the Senate plans to move forward with votes on various immigration bills Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, lawmakers are becoming increasingly pessimistic that anything can clear the 60-vote threshold. The White House’s declarations Wednesday morning may scare away some Republicans who would otherwise have backed one of the bipartisan bills currently under consideration.
Amid this current stalemate, both Democrats and Republicans are insisting they have already bent over backwards to accommodate the other’s concerns.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) emphasized just how much Democrats have been willing to swallow, noting that they are offering “$25 billion dollars for a wall that, if I remember correctly, Mexico was supposed to pay for.”
“That is an invitation for fraud and waste,” he said. “Taxpayers will be the ultimate losers with this slush fund.”
The White House, meanwhile, told reporters Wednesday that Democrats’ position is “extreme” and “radical,” and said Trump’s immigration plan includes several “dramatic concessions”— such as offering a path to citizenship for immigrants eligible for DACA but who never applied, and by excluding policies around the controversial employment check program E-Verify and other forms of interior enforcement.