Sen. Lindsey Graham pulled a small group of Republican senators together in an effort to craft an immigration deal that would end the government shutdown.
The South Carolina Republican held a private gathering with the GOP lawmakers in his office Wednesday following a contentious meeting with congressional leaders that ended with President Donald Trump cutting short, Politico reported.
The group hoped to come up with a compromise that would at once give Trump the $5.7 billion he has requested for building the border wall as well as give Democrats some measures they would be interested in so as to bring an end to the nearly three-week partial government shutdown.
Not largely a group that has been solidly behind Trump in the fight for border wall funding, the GOP senators – Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Rob Portman of Ohio and Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska – met with Graham in hopes of averting the president’s threat to declare a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We’re still just talking,” Portman said, adding that Graham is “trying to do the same thing that all of us are trying to do, which is find a reasonable compromise on moving forward to securing the border and getting government reopened.”
“What you should be aware of is that there’s a group of like-minded senators that are gathering to see if we can’t offer up some solutions. And that’s where we are right now,” Murkowski said, according to Politico.
Tillis noted that Graham was “trying to get people talking.”
“We’ve got to come up with a baseline and react to it and educate people on the importance of border security at the same time. I think we’ve got to keep it simple,” he said, while Graham said he was “hopeful” they could come up with the framework of a compromise.
“It’s in its infant stages — no commitment by anybody — but I’m somewhat hopeful that maybe there’s a way to get what the president wants in a fashion that would do the least amount of damage to the country,” he said, according to The Hill.
As word got out about the private meeting to which no Democrats were invited, some notable Twitter users put out the call to “holler” at the senators they believe could “single-handedly reopen the government.”
For the greater good, please help me encourage these 5 senators to #ReopenTheGovernment:
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) January 9, 2019
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) January 9, 2019
— tara strong (@tarastrong) January 10, 2019
Hey, guys, if you worked this week, will you get paid? 800,000 federal employees won’t. These 5 senators can change that. You know what to do. #TrumpShutdown
— Misha Collins (@mishacollins) January 9, 2019
Despite Trump’s call for GOP unity, eight House Republicans voted in favor of a bill passed by House Democrats Wednesday to reopen the Treasury Department and fund the Internal Revenue Service.
Following the meeting in Graham’s office, which was also attended by Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and the president’s congressional liaison, Shahira Knight, Graham described the preliminary plan as “the wall plus something else” for Democrats.
“There’s a way to get what the president wants and do the least amount of damage to the country as possible,” he said, according to Politico.
Collins, Murkowski, Portman and Alexander met with Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama following the meeting in Graham’s office and some of the senators were scheduled to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday to continue the discussions, according to Politico.
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