Senators crashing on a two-week deadline to come up with an immigration plan are already sparring over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall, what qualifies as border security — even what the scope of the negotiations are.
It was an inauspicious start Tuesday to the bipartisan effort to break the months-long impasse over Dreamers and the budget that crescendoed with last weekend’s government shutdown. That crisis ended quickly, but Congress could be back in almost the same spot in two weeks absent a deal that can get 60 votes.
The path to 60, though, looks rocky indeed.
Though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to take up an immigration bill, what it would look like is anyone’s guess. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) revealed Tuesday he yanked his massive earlier offer of $25 billion in wall funding — a move that angered top Republicans and potentially undercut negotiations among a slew of senators trying to craft an immigration plan that can pass.
An initial gang of six senators has casually doubled, but some members aren’t deeply versed in immigration policy. The group’s leaders say their plan is by far the most developed proposal that can attract Democrats and Republicans, but conservatives with Trump’s ear say the administration has no interest negotiating off their bill.
Senators can barely agree on the terms of negotiation, let alone what a Dreamers deal would look like.