The White House’s top negotiators in the budget impasse said President Trump is open to working out a deal to protect young immigrants from deportation, a sticking point in talks as the government entered its second day of the shutdown.
“The president is absolutely interested and wants to get DACA fixed,” White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to the Obama-era Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals.
The program protects about 800,000 immigrants – known as “Dreamers” – brought to the United States illegally by their parents from deportation.
White House Legislative Director Marc Short said the administration is remaining flexible on the issue.
“Keep in mind, these are people aged 16-36 with work permits, which means they do not have any criminal background. They’re here being productive to our country,” Short said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I think you’ve seen the White House show openness to expand that population, while Democrats have said there are other people who should be apart of the DACA population because they were either afraid or didn’t apply to the program,” Short continued. “We’ve shown a willingness to consider that. So we feel like we’re making progress on multiple areas.”
Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, said any deal to temporarily fund the government must include an agreement to protect the 2012 immigration program.
Previously, the White House has said DACA could not be part of the discussion until the government is funded.
Mulvaney, who said Trump has been “actively engaged” in discussions, said Republicans need Democrats’ support for a temporary funding measure, saying the discussions can then move on to other matters.
“They need to vote to open the government tonight or tomorrow and then we can start talking about those bigger issues,” Mulvaney said on CNN.
Although Republicans have a 51-49 edge in the Senate, they need 60 votes to pass the spending bill.
A vote Friday night failed by a 50-49 margin.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will call for a vote on a three-week stopgap measure at 1 a.m. Monday but it would not include a solution for DACA.