WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday that he was optimistic that Republicans, Democrats and President Donald Trump could reach a deal to end a government shutdown that includes border wall funding and legal status for some undocumented immigrants.
Capitol Hill is seen as a partial U.S. government shutdown continues in Washington, U.S., December 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Young
Graham told reporters after meeting Trump for lunch at the White House that Trump was receptive to Graham’s idea of a deal that might provide work permits to so-called Dreamers, people brought illegally to the United States as children, in exchange for money for physical border barriers.
“The president was upbeat, he was in a very good mood, and I think he’s receptive to making a deal,” Graham said, adding that Trump found the potential Dreamer concession “interesting.”
But the senator from South Carolina said there would never be a government spending deal that doesn’t include money for a wall or other physical barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I don’t see Democrats giving us more money unless they get something. So, the one thing we talked about is making deals,” Graham said.
“After lunch I’ve never been more encouraged that if we can get people talking we can find our way out of this mess and that would include around $5 billion for border security, slash wall, slash fencing whatever you want to call it in areas that make sense,” he added.
Graham had earlier floated the idea of giving Democrats a version of stalled legislation to protect undocumented youth from deportation in exchange for wall funding on CNN’s State of the Union program.
The Trump administration in 2017 announced plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, begun under former president Barack Obama to shield Dreamers from deportation. But Trump’s DACA phase-out has been delayed by court rulings against it.
With the partial government shutdown in its ninth day on Sunday, some other lawmakers were less upbeat about prospects for a deal to restore spending authority.
Republican Senator Richard Shelby warned on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that negotiations were at an impasse and the shutdown “could last a long, long time.”
Democratic U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries said the country needs comprehensive immigration reform and border security.
“We are not willing to pay $2.5 billion or $5 billion and wasting taxpayer dollars on a ransom note because Donald Trump decided that he was going to shut down the government and hold the American people hostage,” Jeffries said on ABC.
Additional reporting by Christopher Bing and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Phil Berlowitz