McConnell: Trump hasn't said what he wants in immigration bill
Posted January 17, 2018 5:44 p.m. EST
(CNN) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that despite months of intense debate over immigration legislation, President Donald Trump has not made clear what he wants in a final bill, one that he would sign into law.
"I'm looking for something that President Trump supports. And he's not yet indicated what measure he's willing to sign," McConnell said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels going to this issue on the floor, but actually dealing with a bill that has a chance to become law and therefore solve the problem."
McConnell's blunt answer came in response to questions about where the immigration debate goes now that a bipartisan Senate proposal from the so-called "gang of six" was rejected by Trump and GOP leaders.
In recent days, the President's views on the thorny immigration negotiations have swung widely. A week ago Tuesday, he was animated at a televised meeting on immigration and seemed open to the bipartisan proposal, which would allow a large group of young people affected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to stay in the US in return for more funding for border security and other immigration reforms. But by Thursday he had changed his tune, siding with conservative immigration hawks and rejecting the proposal during a contentious Oval Office meeting.
McConnell's deputy in the Senate leadership is John Cornyn of Texas. He is spearheading fresh talks on the issue with the other second-ranking Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate.
Asked whether the White House was being clear about what it wanted, Cornyn noted that the group had met earlier in the day with White House chief of staff John Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and "had an extensive discussion about the elements they are interested in, particularly in regard to border security and dealing with some of the gaps in our current laws."
But Cornyn also said the White House is giving broad latitude for lawmakers to come up with a deal.
"The White House is waiting for us to come with an agreement. They are not really dictating it, necessarily," he said. "I think we all have a pretty good idea of what we have to do. We just have to do it."