Lawmakers in both parties are skeptical about President Trump’s chances of securing funding for his wall on the Mexican border after a 35-day partial government shutdown that bruised the White House’s political standing.
The deal reached last week gives Trump and Congress until Feb. 15 to reach a new deal to prevent another partial shutdown, and the president is demanding new legislation again that would fund his signature campaign issue.
That would be a tough nut to crack in only three weeks, and the concessions could also damage Trump with his base.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) set the tone immediately after Trump agreed to reopen the government by declaring Friday that she will not change her stance on opposing money for a border wall, which she had previously called “immoral.”
“Have I not been clear on a wall? I’ve been very clear on the wall,” she told reporters Friday when asked whether her position had changed at all because of the decision to reopen government agencies.
Her staunch opposition to funding the wall leaves some lawmakers wondering whether the political dynamic has changed.
“There’s a chance we’re in the same soup in three weeks,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) acknowledged moments after Trump announced he would support funding the government for three weeks to give negotiators space to reach a deal.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), who was named Friday to the Senate-House conference committee that will attempt to find a compromise over the next three weeks, has previously said we would only entertain supporting increased funding for border barriers if Republicans agree to a permanent solution for Dreamers facing deportation.
He rejected a proposal floated by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to give Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who came to the country at a young age — only three years of protection from deportation in exchange for border wall funding.
Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Sunday reiterated that Democrats want a path to citizenship for immigrants previously protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that Trump rescinded in 2017.
“If the president or his hard right wing would look at that in a little bit more [of] a compassionate way, I think it would break down the problems that we have with barriers,” Manchin said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“Can’t those people deserve 10 years — it’s a long pathway — a 10-year pathway? That would really help an awful lot in moving forward,” he added, referring to a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
But Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) warns that trying to reach a broader immigration deal will likely take longer than the three weeks before Trump’s next deadline.
“If you make it a bigger deal, it’s obviously going to take a lot longer to get done,” he said.
Asked about permanent legal status for Dreamers, Thune said “that’s a longer-term conversation with regard to immigration.”