WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump made an offer Saturday to reopen a government that's been partially shut down since Dec. 22, but Democrats were quick to dismiss his proposal as a "non-starter."
In a nationally televised speech, Trump said he would agree to extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program put in place under President Barack Obama for young people brought to the country as children and now here illegally. He would also extend temporary protected status for people from some Latin American and African nations fleeing natural disasters or violence.
In exchange, Trump again called for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, though he described it as "steel barriers in high-priority locations." He said the barriers are needed to block what he called the flow of drugs and crime into the country.
The president also called for hundreds of millions of dollars for humanitarian assistance and drug detection, and for hiring thousands of new law enforcement agents to be deployed on the southern border.
Trump declared that "both sides in Washington must simply come together," adding that he was there "to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis on the southern border."
The president said Saturday that he was incorporating ideas from "rank-and-file" Democrats, even though top Democrats made clear that they had not been consulted.
"This is a common-sense compromise both parties should embrace," Trump said. He added: "The radical left can never control our borders. I will never let it happen."
A senior House Democratic aide said the plan was "not a compromise" because it still includes Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border -- the same request that led to the shutdown.
Trump said Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will put the legislation on the Senate floor for a vote this week, though McConnell had previously stated that no vote should be held in the Senate until Trump and Democrats agree on a bill.
Trump's remarks from the Diplomatic Room marked the second time he has addressed the nation about the partial shutdown. He made his remarks after overseeing a naturalization ceremony in the Oval Office for five new Americans, who took the Oath of Allegiance from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The event was intended to underscore Trump's support of foreigners who enter the country through legal immigration programs.
Trump's son-in-law and senior aide, Jared Kushner, led the work on Saturday's proposal, said three people familiar with White House thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly. Some said Nielsen, Vice President Mike Pence and White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were involved, too.
The White House billed the announcement as a major step forward. The move came as 800,000 federal workers are furloughed or working without receiving paychecks. Numerous government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, are operating at minimal staffing levels. Many public services are unavailable to Americans during the closure.
Mulvaney insisted that declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress -- Trump has threatened to do so -- remains on the table, but he added that the "best way to fix this is through legislation."
Mulvaney also noted that Tuesday was the deadline for the next federal pay period, saying: "If the bill is filibustered on Tuesday ... people will not get paid."
Congressional Republicans were optimistic about the proposal. Sen. Lindsey Graham said a deal could be reached "in a couple of weeks."
"We're at a stalemate," the South Carolina Republican said Saturday in Ankara, Turkey. "The good news: I've been talking behind the scenes with Democrats, and the vice president. I believe there is a deal that can be reached fairly quickly. I think this can be done in a couple of weeks, not a couple of months."
Arkansas' U.S. Rep. Steve Womack echoed the president's language, calling Saturday's proposal "common-sense and bipartisan."
"Rejecting this compromise would be to show that political obstructionism is more important than governing," the Republican from Rogers said. "It's time for my Democratic colleagues to come to the table and do what is right for our national security, federal workers, and all Americans."
ANGER ON BOTH SIDES
Conservatives and liberals criticized the proposal, with some conservatives expressing anger that the president was attempting to bridge the divide with Democrats.
"The offer the president announced today is a loser for the forgotten American workers who were central to his campaign promises," said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, which seeks to reduce legal and illegal immigration to the U.S.
Trump had embraced the shutdown in December in part because of warnings from his most ardent supporters that he was passing up his last, best chance to start building the wall before Democrats took control of the House in the new year.
Those supporters included conservative firebrand Ann Coulter, who had written a book titled In Trump We Trust in 2016, but who criticized the president last month with a column titled "Gutless President in a Wall-Less Country." Coulter on Saturday accused the president of offering to grant amnesty to millions of people in the United States illegally in exchange for 100 miles of border wall.
"So if we grant citizenship to a BILLION foreigners, maybe we can finally get a full border wall," she tweeted.
In a briefing with reporters, Pence defended the proposal from criticism from the right.
"This is not an amnesty bill," he said.
Administration officials said the protections Trump proposed would apply only to those currently in the program shielding them from deportation, and the temporary protected status would apply to those who currently have it and who have been in the U.S. since 2011. That means people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti -- countries that saw their status revoked since Trump took office -- would get a reprieve.
Trump previously dismissed a deal involving people brought to the U.S. as children, saying he would prefer to see first whether the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program survives a court challenge.
On Friday, the Supreme Court took no action on the Trump administration's request to decide by early summer whether Trump's bid to end that program was legal, meaning it probably will survive at least another year.
A previous attempt to reach a compromise that addressed the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals broke down a year ago when the White House also demanded cuts in legal immigration.
Trump's offer was also panned Saturday by progressive groups, with Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, calling it a "one-sided proposal."
Some Democrats rejected Trump's offer as unacceptable before it was officially announced. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a "non-starter," saying it was "a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable."
The California Democrat said the effort could not pass in the House and again called on Trump to reopen the government from a shutdown that is in its 30th day, the longest in U.S. government history.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer described the proposal as simply "more hostage taking."
Democrats have been under pressure from immigrant-rights organizations not to give Trump funding for a wall. And Trump's offer would not provide a path to permanent legal status -- or citizenship -- that many Democrats have sought in any immigration deal that would ramp up border security measures.
Democrats made their own move late Friday to break the impasse when they pledged to provide hundreds of millions of dollars more for border security.
Pelosi said Democrats will pass legislation to reopen the government this week, after which Congress will negotiate border security. Pelosi said Democrats will also pass six bills agreed to by House and Senate negotiators.
"The president must sign these bills to reopen government immediately and stop holding the American people hostage with this senseless shutdown," Pelosi said.
A reporter asked Trump on Saturday whether the shutdown had become too personal between himself and Pelosi.
"It's not personal for me," he said. "She's being controlled by the radical left, which is a problem."
A spokesman for Pelosi did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Information for this article was contributed by Jill Colvin, Catherine Lucey, Zeke Miller, Alan Fram, Matthew Daly and Colleen Long of The Associated Press; by Katie Zezima, Erica Werner, David Nakamura, Paige Winfield Cunningham, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, Paul Kane and Damian Paletta of The Washington Post; and by Cagan Koc of Bloomberg News.
President Donald Trump leaves the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Saturday after saying in a televised address that “both sides in Washington must simply come together” to end the government shutdown.
A Section on 01/20/2019
Print Headline: Trump offers DACA shift for $5.7B wall; Democrats unimpressed, call proposal ‘non-starter’