As House Democrats Reject Trump Proposal, Senate GOP Embraces It

Jan 20, 2019
Originally published on January 20, 2019 10:53 am
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

It's been two years since President Trump's inauguration. The government is shut down over an issue that propelled him into office. So where are we? Yesterday, President Trump made an offer that Democrats easily refused. In exchange for funding to build a permanent wall, the president offered a temporary protection for some hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the proposal a non-starter. And that was before President Trump gave his speech. For more on the congressional reaction, I'm joined now by NPR's Scott Detrow in the studio. Thank you for coming in. Good morning.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. So the offer was to give a three-year extension to DACA recipients and temporary protected status immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras. Let's start with Pelosi. How did she characterize the president's offer?

DETROW: Like you said, a non-starter - the Democratic stance has been what it's been all along. They're saying, we need to reopen the government first. And then we will negotiate on these border issues. House Democrats have passed several bills doing that. The Senate isn't voting on them. As for the president's offer itself, they're pointing out the president is getting everything he wants here, that $5.7 billion for a border wall. And he's offering short-term restoration of two programs that he was the one who made the decision to end. So Democrats do not appear to be moved here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right - was there a counteroffer from the Democrats? Because this might be the start of a negotiation.

DETROW: Right - well, we're seeing some signals, some reports that the next round of bills that the House votes on - Democrats may include a lot more money for border security but not a wall, money for things like security at ports of entry, which Democrats have been pointing out - those are the places that these drugs the president keeps talking about are coming through, not border crossings. So we are seeing really tiny steps towards some sort of serious conversation. But that serious conversation has not begun yet.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right - but it looks like Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who's been a little bit missing in action during this, will bring the president's plan to the Senate floor this week. Will it pass? Does he have the votes?

DETROW: Well, this is pretty notable. McConnell and Senate Republicans have really been on the sidelines this entire shutdown ever since President Trump essentially burned them. Remember way back when the Senate voted unanimously to - for a bill that did not include border funding - wall funding, rather - under the assumption that the president would sign it. Of course, he didn't. We're in the shutdown. And McConnell has just stayed out of it. But he says he will bring this to a vote now. That could create some pressure on Senate Democrats. But it's hard to see, under these current dynamics, enough Democratic votes to get the 60 that the Senate would need to pass it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hard-line Republicans, it should be said, like Ann Coulter, who have an outsized influence on the president also don't like this deal.

DETROW: Yeah. And we saw the president defending himself against those charges this morning, saying that this is not amnesty. Every time the president has taken a step toward compromise in the past, he's quickly walked it back and gone back to his hard-line position with his base. Here's what's different this time, though. Before he had to convince House Republicans, notably the Freedom Caucus, to call these compromise measures to a vote and to vote for them - with Democrats in the majority in the House, House Republicans' views just aren't that relevant. An eventual solution, whatever it is, will pass on House Democratic votes. So this is always a big-picture political concern for the president. But in terms of actual vote counting towards a deal...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right.

DETROW: ...Not really an issue this time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right - so where does that leave us? Because, of course, there's hundreds of thousands of people who are not working. What key things should we be looking for?

DETROW: Two things - any more additional signs that the president or Democrats are losing political support - we saw a poll last week from NPR showing the president has lost support and two indications that 800,000 people going a month without the paycheck is hurting the economy. We've seen some indications that could be the case. I think it's notable President Trump didn't say anything about those federal employees yesterday during his speech.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's true. He didn't. That's NPR congressional correspondent Scott Detrow. Thank you so much.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.