WASHINGTON — Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week prepared to vote on dueling proposals to end the government shutdown.
But it appears that neither approach is likely to end the standoff anytime soon.
The Republican-controlled Senate intends to take up President Donald Trump’s plan to combine border wall funding with three years of extended protections for those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Most Nebraska and Iowa lawmakers have issued statements standing with Trump and welcoming that latest proposal.
“I appreciate the president putting forward a reasonable proposal containing bipartisan ideas to secure our border and reopen government,” said Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. “I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will take the time to review the details of it before rushing to judgment and I look forward to debating it on the Senate floor.”
But Democratic leaders have rejected that offer, citing several reasons, including that they don’t want to reward what they call hostage-taking by the president. Giving him funding for what they consider an ill-advised wall in exchange for reopening the government could prompt him to shut the government down whenever he wants something from Congress, they say.
“Reopen the government, let workers get their paychecks and then we can discuss how we can come together to protect the border,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, House Democrats plan to continue voting on their own measures to reopen government without funding the border wall.
As the shutdown drags on, polls indicate that the public is fed up with the stalemate, and they indicate that Trump seems to be catching more of the blame.
Republicans say Democrats have refused to negotiate with him, but Democrats point to Trump’s comments at the start of the dispute.
While meeting with top Democrats in front of reporters, Trump said he would be proud to shut down the government for the sake of border security.
“I will be the one to shut it down,” he said to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “I’m not going to blame you for it. I will take the mantle of shutting down.”
Most Republican lawmakers from Nebraska and Iowa had positive comments on Trump’s plan.
Rep. Adrian Smith called it a “serious offer,” while fellow Nebraska Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry shared an enthusiastic “Good deal, Mr. President, let’s go!” on Twitter.
Good deal, Mr. President, let’s go! @realdonaldtrump
— Jeff Fortenberry (@JeffFortenberry) January 19, 2019
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., acknowledged that Trump’s proposal is not a permanent solution for DACA recipients, but he said the president is seeking a middle ground. (DACA makes work permits possible for immigrants brought here illegally as children.)
“I support this compromise as a first step,” Bacon said. “It is time for Pelosi and Schumer to negotiate in good faith and stop the shutdown, instead of just saying no.”
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Americans are tired of the partial shutdown’s effects and the dysfunction they see in Washington.
“The deal President Trump has put on the table is one that both Democrats and Republicans can support,” Ernst said.
And Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, hailed the president’s proposal.
“Today’s offer by President Trump includes policies previously supported by a number of Democrats and Republicans to tackle urgent immigration and security needs and provide additional certainty for many immigrants in the United States,” Grassley said.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., did not issue a statement on the proposal. Spokesman James Wegmann said Sasse is reviewing it.
Another wrinkle for Trump’s proposal is that it prompted a backlash from some on the right. Immigration hard-liners denounced what they see as “amnesty” for DACA recipients.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, recently stripped of his committee assignments and rebuked by his colleagues for comments about white supremacy that he says were misinterpreted, spoke out on Twitter.
King wrote that a big, concrete border wall would be a monument to the rule of law in America, but he criticized the DACA portion of Trump’s proposal.
“If DACA Amnesty is traded for $5.7 billion(1/5 of a wall), wouldn’t be enough illegals left in America to trade for the remaining 4/5,” King wrote. “NO AMNESTY 4 a wall!”
A Big Beautiful Concrete Border Wall will be a monument to the Rule of Law, the sovereignty of the USA, & @RealDonaldTrump. If DACA Amnesty is traded for $5.7 billion(1/5 of a wall), wouldn’t be enough illegals left in America to trade for the remaining 4/5. NO AMNESTY 4 a wall!
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 19, 2019