Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer has pulled back an offer of $25 billion for President Donald Trump’s long-promised southern border wall, as lawmakers scrambled to figure out how to push a deal to protect 700,000 or more so-called Dreamer immigrants from deportation. Schumer had made the offer last Friday in a last-ditch effort to head off a government shutdown, then came scalding criticism from his party’s liberal activist base that Democrats had given up too easily in reopening the government without more concrete promises on immigration.
“We’re going to have to start on a new basis, and the wall offer’s off the table,” Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday.
The shutdown battle — settled mostly on Trump’s terms — complicated the already difficult search for an immigration pact: GOP hard-liners appeared emboldened, while Democrats absorbed withering criticism from progressives. Neither development seemed likely to push the combatants toward the compromises needed to produce a bill that can pass both the tea party-driven House and the more pragmatic Senate.
Still, there were fresh signs of a willingness to keep hunting for a solution, with a flurry of meetings on Capitol Hill and an assessment from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that “I don’t think they’re that far apart.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he’d been to three meetings Tuesday about immigration. “I know there’s a lot of skepticism around here and not much trust,” he said, “but I do believe that there is a bona fide bipartisan concern about getting this done.”
Even if the Senate can come up with the votes to pass a plan, Democrats fear there is little chance such a bill would gain the support of House Republicans. “There were no commitments made in the House” as legislators worked to end the government shutdown, House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana said Monday, warning against any “amnesty” measure.