Democrats not buying Trump's shutdown-ending 'compromise'

Monday, January 21, 2019

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) — In a bid to break the shutdown stalemate, President Donald Trump offered to extend temporary protections for young people brought to the US illegally as children and those fleeing disaster zones in exchange for his long-promised border wall. But while Trump cast the move as a “commonsense compromise”, Democrats were quick to dismiss it as a “nonstarter”.

With polls showing a majority of Americans blaming him and Republicans for the impasse, Trump said from the White House that he was there “to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the Government shutdown and solve the crisis on the southern border”.

But Trump did not budge on his US$5.7 billion demand for the wall and, in essence, offered to temporarily roll back some of his own hawkish immigration actions — actions that have been blocked by federal courts.

Democrats dismissed Trump's proposal ahead of his televised speech, after reports of his prepared remarks were published. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the expected offer was nothing more than “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives” and that the effort could not pass the House.

“What is original in the president's proposal is not good. What is good in the proposal is not original,” she later tweeted.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also panned the proposal as “more hostage taking”, saying that it was Trump who had “single-handedly” imperiled the future of the immigrants he proposed to help.

Reacting to the cool reception, Trump fired a flurry of tweets Saturday morning lashing out at Pelosi personally. He accused her, without evidence, of having “behaved so irrationally” and moving “so far to the left that she has now officially become a Radical Democrat”.

Yesterday, he also appeared to threaten to target millions of people living in the country illegally if he doesn't eventually get his way, writing that, “there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”

Trump had sought to cast his plan as a bipartisan way forward, and said Saturday's proposal had incorporated ideas from “rank-and-file” Democrats, even as top Democrats made clear they had not been consulted. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring the legislation to a vote tomorrow — a move that will force Democrats who oppose the idea to vote against re-opening the Government as hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain without pay. Tuesday is also the deadline for the next federal pay period.

“If the bill is filibustered on Tuesday... people will not get paid,” said White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

McConnell had previously stated that no vote should be held in the Senate until Trump and Democrats agreed on a bill.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday Vice-President Mike Pence said Trump had “set the table for a deal that will address the crisis on our border, secure our border and give us a pathway” to reopen the Government. He also said he was optimistic the plan would begin to gain traction after McConnell brings it to the Senate floor on Tuesday — though it's unclear it can pass.

Trump's plan seems to stand little chance of getting the 60 votes needed in the Senate. Senator Chris Coons, whom the White House has looked to as a possible partner on immigration negotiations, said he will not support it. And another key centrist, Senator Lisa Murkowski, said she would study the details of the plan but did not commit to vote for it.

Trump's remarks from the Diplomatic Room marked the second time he has addressed the nation as the partial shutdown drags on. And this time, he sought to strike a diplomatic tone, emphasizing the need to work across the aisle.

But the plan drew criticism from both the left and the right.

“Trump proposes amnesty,” tweeted conservative firebrand Ann Coulter. “We voted for Trump and got Jeb!” she said, in a reference to Trump's 2016 rival, Jeb Bush.

Trump objected.

“No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer,” he tweeted. Still, he said he would be open to using “amnesty” on “a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else”.

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