The chances of a mutually beneficial immigration deal being reached decreased significantly on Tuesday after Senate Minority Leader Schumer withdrew an offer to provide funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.
During a Friday meeting with Trump at the White House, Schumer had reportedly offered to fund the wall between the U.S. and Mexico — a key part of Trump’s campaign platform.
But the offer was retracted Sunday, with Schumer explaining that he took it off the table because a deal was never reached to grant legal status to the roughly 700,000 illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
“The thought was that we could come to an agreement that afternoon, the president would announce his support, and the Senate and the House would get it done and it would be on the president’s desk,” the New York Democrat told reporters Tuesday, according to Politico.
However, that never happened. Instead, the federal government was shut down for three days until Republicans and Democrats in the Senate agreed to fund the government through Feb. 8.
In return, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that Republicans would consider legislation to decide the fate of the immigrants who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump ended in September.
Schumer indicated that his offer to fund the border wall was contingent on the president supporting a deal to avoid the shutdown altogether. Such an agreement would have addressed the DACA issue right then and there.
“He didn’t do that,” Schumer said. “So we’re going to have to start on a new basis and so the wall offer is off the table.”
Despite the minority leader’s remarks, there have been conflicting reports on whether Schumer really did offer to fund the wall,.
White House spokesman Hogan Hidley said Tuesday on Fox News that Schumer’s offer “never existed.”
“You can’t rescind money you never really offered in the first place,” Hidley said.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, though, claimed Schumer had offered Trump roughly $25 billion in funding. Though Schumer’s office would not confirm the exact number, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin indicated the figure was accurate.
“He did it in the context of a negotiation,” Durbin told a reporter, according to Reuters.
Cornyn, meanwhile, said Schumer’s decision to table the offer is not going to make negotiating an immigration deal any easier.
“If he wants a solution, that’s a step backward,” the Texas Republican said of his Democrat colleague.
Trump, for his part, has consistently demanded that any deal on immigration reform include funding for a border wall. The president took to Twitter late Tuesday night to reiterate that sentiment.
“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA,” Trump tweeted. “We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!”
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