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Democrats stand firm on ending shutdown

January 21, 2019

Democrats showed no signs Sunday of taking up President Trump’s compromise proposal on border security, even as the partial government shutdown entered its fifth week and some federal employees prepared to miss a second paycheck.

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, said Sunday there would be no negotiations on border security until President Trump agrees to end the shutdown. He echoed the sentiments of House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who rejected the proposal as “a compilation of previously rejected initiatives” shortly after it was proposed Saturday.

“I can’t see us keeping federal employees, 800,000 people, out of work while we go back and forth on negotiations,” Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “These negotiations can take three or four weeks. We ought to open the government up.”

Meanwhile, Republicans said the president’s willingness to compromise, including by biting the bullet on measures he has publicly opposed, showed that he is the only one who is serious about ending the shutdown.

Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, praised Mr. Trump for making progress and described the Democratic response as predictable.

“It represents progress, not perfection. But progress,” Mr. Kennedy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Pelosi’s response was predictable, but I can promise you that [some] Democrats right now are glad the president put something on the table.”

He said he spoke with Mr. Trump last week, “and if you bring a plan to him that doesn’t include a wall, it’s dead as four o’clock.”

Mr. Clyburn said he was open to the idea of a “barrier” or “smart wall” along the southern border, and that a compromise could be closer than many may believe.

“We can pass a continuing resolution for 30 days, get the government open, get people back to work, and then let’s sit around the table and see where the common ground is,” Mr. Clyburn said. “It may be as simple as taking the ‘temporary’ off the ‘temporary protective status’ fixes.”

Democratic leaders rejected out of hand Mr. Trump’s compromise proposed Saturday for a three-year protection of about 700,000 immigrants who arrived illegally as children in exchange for $5.7 billion for the border wall or barrier.

In addition to the extension for those receiving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Mr. Trump offered to extend protection to the 300,000 immigrants in the Temporary Protected Status program.

“And let’s go back and forth on this and see where we can find common ground,” Mr. Clyburn said. “We are all for negotiating and we would love to have a permanent fix for DACA and TPS, just as he wants a permanent wall. I think it’s a nonstarter for him to ask for a permanent wall and for us to have a temporary fix.”

Mr. Trump said Saturday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has pledged to bring the proposal for a vote this week, but Democrats in that chamber were confident that it wouldn’t pass there, where the filibuster means 60 votes would be needed and that means persuading a half-dozen Democrats.

Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia was one of the few Democrats to publicly express optimism about Mr. Trump’s proposal.

“I’m hopeful the President’s statement tonight will allow us to immediately reopen gov, put WVians back to work start negotiating long-term immigration reform,” Mr. Manchin tweeted Saturday. “I look forward to working w/my GOP Dem colleagues to make this happen so that we can end this shameful shutdown.”

But more common was the reaction of Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, who accused the White House on Sunday of politicking. He said the proposal was aimed more at playing to the voters than reaching an agreement.

“I think the vice president and the president know that what the president announced yesterday was not going to go anywhere,” Mr. Schiff said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It wasn’t really intended to. It was, I think, an effort to prop up the president’s sagging poll numbers. But it did nothing to get us closer to ending the shutdown.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat, called the proposal a “nonstarter,” adding, “I don’t think you should even consider this because it’s three years.

“I don’t take him on his word on anything,” Ms. Gillibrand said. “If he really cares about this, he would open up the government, stop the 800,000 people that didn’t get a paycheck last week, stop their suffering.”

The showdown has become increasingly personal since Mrs. Pelosi said at a White House meeting that she would refuse to consider money for a border wall, prompting Mr. Trump to walk out.

In the past week, Mrs. Pelosi had withdrawn her invitation to Mr. Trump to give the State of the Union address in the House, and the president has blocked Mrs. Pelosi and a congressional delegation from traveling on a military plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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