A sign announcing closure of the National Archives due to a partial government shutdown is displayed in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg)

A Top House Democrat Offers a Path to a Deal Ending Shutdown Fight

(Bloomberg) -- The No. 3 House Democrat on Sunday offered a path for a deal to end the almost month-long partial government shutdown, focused on a permanent solution for so-called “Dreamers” rather than the three-year reprieve offered by President Donald Trump.

“Let’s go back and forth on this and see where we can find common ground,” House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina said on “Fox News Sunday.” He spoke a day after Trump made his offer, which was rejected even before he presented it by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats.

A Top House Democrat Offers a Path to a Deal Ending Shutdown Fight

Clyburn said Democrats would love “to have a permanent fix” for the undocumented individuals in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, as well as people from various countries at risk of losing Temporary Protected Status -- just as Trump “wants a permanent wall.”

“We want to sit down and put some stability in people’s lives,” Clyburn said. “We are all for negotiations.”

But Clyburn said Trump should first agree to open the government to give lawmakers several weeks to negotiate a deal that would include more money for a wall on the southern U.S. border. Trump is demanding $5.7 billion, which Democrats have flatly rejected.

Lawmakers from both parties and Vice President Mike Pence went on Sunday morning political shows -- and Trump took to Twitter -- to talk about a potential deal after the president on Saturday outlined what he called a compromise to secure money for the wall he promised during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Blame Game

It was Trump’s first substantive offer aimed at peeling off moderate Democrats and shifting blame with an American public that so far holds him the most responsible for the month-long shutdown that reached its 30th day on Sunday.

The Senate plans a vote as early as Tuesday on a package that would fund the shuttered parts of the federal government to Oct. 1 and provide $12 billion in disaster aid while enacting Trump’s compromise immigration offer.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will attempt to amend a House-passed spending bill with the text of the new legislation on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the plan. If he cannot get consent from Democrats to do that, the vote on the bill would be pushed to Thursday, the person said.

The vote would come just before about 800,000 federal workers are set to miss their second paychecks on Friday from the shutdown. The House also plans votes this week on a package containing six of the same seven spending bills.

Additional $1 Billion

Clyburn noted that Democrats have already offered an additional $1 billion for border measures including upgrades at ports of entry. Clyburn said Trump also now seems to be talking more about “barriers” instead of the wall -- and on Saturday the president said the barrier would not be “sea to sea” -- a shift the Democrat welcomed.

The Democratic measure would provide $563 million for immigration judges and $524 million for upgrading ports of entry. That’s up from $504 million for judges last year and $254 million for ports of entry.

Clyburn said he’s previously backed measures that include enhanced border control technology and drones. That, he said, would be more effective than “a monument.”

“I’ve been talking about barriers for a long time,” Clyburn said.

While Clyburn pressed the Democratic insistence that Trump agree to open the government to allow time for negotiations, the idea of trading border funding for permanent deportation relief is an idea that’s had broad bipartisan support in the past.

Previous Support

Some 54 senators, including most Democrats, backed a path to citizenship for the DACA population in 2018 in return for $25 billion in border funding over a decade. But Trump opposed the bill because he also insisted on cuts to legal immigration.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a newly minted 2020 presidential hopeful, said Democrats want a pathway to citizenship for everyone eligible for DACA in return for border money.

“We put a deal on the table a year ago to say, we will give you the border security money that you want” in return for a path to citizenship for all “Dreamers,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “That is still there for him. The fact that he’s saying three years just for DACA just shows that he’s not serious.”

Pence said earlier Sunday on Fox that the administration was open to negotiations, but he wasn’t willing to concede that Trump’s offer is dead-on-arrival at the Capitol.

Not Amnesty

“Now people will start voting and we’ll see where they stand,” Pence said. He also insisted that the president’s proposal wasn’t amnesty when asked about criticism from the right.

“This is not amnesty, there’s no pathway to citizenship, there is no permanent status here at all, which is what amnesty contemplates,” Pence said.

Trump issued several early morning tweets about the impasse, blasting Pelosi as “a Radical Democrat” and also insisting his proposal wasn’t “amnesty” as some prominent conservatives have said. The president suggested he would ultimately be willing to trade amnesty for an agreement, though.

“Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else,” he said on Twitter. He also promised “no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally” but added in a message to Pelosi, “be careful Nancy!”

The suggestion of amnesty for Dreamers or others under any circumstance is likely to rile some of Trump’s anti-immigration critics on the far right. “Trump proposes amnesty,” conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted on Saturday. “We voted for Trump and we got Jeb!”

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