DACA talks with John Kelly 'candid' but no progress yet

Senate and House leaders met Monday to discuss steps forward on immigration in the first gathering they have had sinc...

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 10:35 AM
Updated: Jan 30, 2018 10:35 AM

Senate and House leaders met Monday to discuss steps forward on immigration in the first gathering they have had since President Donald Trump unveiled his immigration framework last week.

But after the meeting, it remained unclear how either side could reach agreement with the other, even after weeks of negotiations.

"I don't think they're any closer to anything than they were from the White House meeting weeks ago," said one Democratic source privy to the conversation in the room.

The meeting, which stretched just over 40 minutes, featured "candid" discussion, according to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and included White House officials such as chief of staff John Kelly and Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short as well as Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen-Nielsen.

"I think we were candid as to where each one of us was coming from," Hoyer said after leaving the meeting. "I don't think anybody was not straightforward, which was useful."

Sen. Dick Durbin told CNN the meeting was "cordial" with "back and forth" between the lawmakers and Kelly and Nielsen. But he said he still thinks the administration is including too much in its request, especially under the name "border security."

"We're not cursing one another or anything like that at all, but we haven't made a lot of progress," the Illinois Democrat said. "Maybe tomorrow will be different."

According to one GOP aide, Kelly did not stress at any point that he was there to deliver a specific or pointed message from the President in the meeting. According to the Democratic source, there was a lot of discussion of the "four pillars" the White House wants in a deal -- a fix for the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, border security, cuts to family migration and ending the diversity lottery -- but the administration still can't answer if those are non-negotiable, even when Democrats say the latter two are not doable.

According to Congressional Hispanic Caucus Whip Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat who attended the meeting with Hoyer, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy led the meeting held in his office and there was "dialogue" after McCarthy walked through the White House proposal.

Trump is expected to discuss his immigration proposal, including strong limits to legal immigration, at his first State of the Union address Tuesday.

"This has not been productive," Durbin said of the group. "We've had three or four meetings of principals, five or six meetings of staff, and we don't have much to show for it. But we do have some looming deadlines. I hope that moves us."

He added that he hoped a Tuesday session will offer a "better chance" at "specifics."

"Right now we're waiting to see who will step up and engage," said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn after the meeting. "Right now we're not seeing much engagement from the leadership on the President's proposal. The clock's ticking."

"I think there is a lot of wheel spinning," Cornyn added. "Talking about having a bunch of staff meetings at this point doesn't strike me as particularly designed to achieve some consensus by February 8."

Lawmakers have a handful of days left to find consensus on immigration if they are to meet a February 8 deadline for a government funding measure, but fierce disagreements over how to structure the future of legal immigration still threaten to derail negotiations.

The President's proposal includes a path to citizenship for 1.8 million individuals eligible for DACA, but also makes drastic changes to so-called chain migration or family reunification programs, something Democrats have said they won't accept, and includes undetailed closes to "legal loopholes," as the White House puts it, which could mean a vast expansion of federal enforcement and deportation authority.

Leaving the meeting, Cornyn told reporters that the President's plan was the de facto starting point.

"I know the Democrats would like to take the DACA piece and forget the rest, but we're not going to do that," the Texas Republican said.

Leaving a second meeting she held just after the first with House conservatives who have pushed for a more aggressive conservative proposal, Nielsen wouldn't say whether the President's framework was a final offer.

"It's the President's offer. We're working on it from there," she told CNN.

Nielsen then went into a meeting with the House Republican whip team, where she was introduced by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul, the Texas Republican told CNN.

In the meeting, House Republicans expressed concerns among the caucus about being able to pass the White House proposal.

"I think the hard part for our guys is going to be this full pathway to citizenship and trying to deal with that issue," McCaul said. "Obviously we discussed everything (with Nielsen) and it came up at the whip meeting. I think it's something people want to know -- some of our guys view that as amnesty."

McCarthy said the Kelly meeting was more productive than others in the past, adding that the group would meet again Tuesday.

The obstacles that await the group are only growing, however. Tuesday night is the State of the Union address, which is expected to take up most of the political energy in Washington, and then lawmakers will leave DC for their respective Democratic and Republican retreats. The question now is whether lawmakers will tackle the full cadre of items Trump wants them to or abandon his plan for a simpler proposal that protects DACA recipients in exchange for bolstered border funding.

McCarthy shot down the idea that Congress would simply extend DACA for a year rather than tackle family reunification and-the diversity lottery, which are considered far thornier issues, a possibility Cornyn himself has suggested to reporters.

The California Republican shook his head no.

"We got to finish this once and for all," he said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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