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Exclusive: Trump plans shutdown compromise

Trump speaking to reporters
Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to use remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room on Saturday afternoon to propose a notable immigration compromise, according to sources familiar with the speech.

Details: The offer is expected to include Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for wall money in exchange for the BRIDGE Act — which would extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — and also legislation to extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, according to a source with direct knowledge.

  • Jared Kushner and Mike Pence have led the crafting of this deal and the negotiations with members, according to White House officials. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters he had proposed the idea of a DACA-TPS swap to Trump in December, and that the president called it "interesting."

The backdrop: A source privy to the negotiations told me the inflection point for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was the letter from Nancy Pelosi telling Trump not to deliver the State of the Union. McConnell had been saying all along that Pelosi and Trump needed to negotiate because one needed to put a bill on the House floor and one needed to sign it — two people with singular power.

  • But after Pelosi’s letter, the source said, it became clear to McConnell she was “never going to get off her position and some other spark needed to happen.”

McConnell told the president that it was his view that Pelosi was never going to move. She would and could not negotiate on border funding because of her caucus, and Trump needed to be the one to put something forward he would sign so that McConnell would have the presidential backing to bring it to the floor.

  • McConnell also encouraged Trump to make the offer tantalizing to Democrats; it couldn’t be something that only Trump would sign and Republicans would support, but something that could win over some Democrats.
  • The Pence-Kushner-McConnell meeting on Thursday night solidified the plan. McConnell did not try to write the bill for them; this bill is the culmination of Kushner and Pence’s conversations with some Democrats and an inventory of proposals they discussed. Democratic whip Dick Durbin is Kushner’s closest Democratic ally in the Senate after they worked together on criminal justice reform, according to White House officials.

The big picture: Advocates for the plan argue that by offering the new proposal, Trump is showing he’s willing to negotiate while Pelosi remains unmoved.  But even some top Republicans are skeptical Trump's overture will be enough to break the logjam.

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