WASHINGTON (CBS News) — President Trump denied that his dinner with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had resulted in a deal that would address the fate of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
“No deal was made last night on DACA,” he tweeted early Thursday morning.
But on Wednesday night, the two leaders had announced that they had they had agreed to a law that would protect DACA recipients, and that the law would also include border security, “excluding the wall.”
“We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” they said in a joint statement after their dinner with Mr. Trump.
The White House, however, did not mention any such deal excluding a border wall in its account from an anonymous official, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed the Democrats’ version of events. The Trump administration announced the end of DACA earlier this month, and Mr. Trump has given Congress six months to act.
“President Donald Trump had a constructive working dinner with Senate and House Minority Leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as well as administration officials to discuss policy and legislative priorities,” a White House official said in a statement. “These topics included tax reform, border security, DACA, infrastructure and trade. This is a positive step toward the president’s strong commitment to bipartisan solutions for the issues most important to all Americans. The administration looks forward to continuing these conversations with leadership on both sides of the aisle.”
Sanders tweeted that, “excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to” when the Democrats’ statement emerged.
Matt House, communications director for Schumer, tweeted that Mr. Trump was clear he still wants a wall — he just said he won’t require wall funding to be tethered to Dreamers.
But, contrary to the White House’s account, several moderates who met with the president earlier in the day said Mr. Trump had been talking about an immigration deal without border wall funding, CBS News’ Walt Cronkite reports.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-New Jersey, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, Rep. Tom Reed, R-New York, and Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, told CBSN the basic parameters of the president’s immigration deal with include provisions similar to the Dream Act, and include increased funding for border security, but not for a wall, which the president would pursue separately. The president was in favor of skills-based immigration vetting, and particularly a bill Sen Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, have introduced, although Democrats pushed back on that concept somewhat.
“The president also, did say also that the wall can … doesn’t necessarily have to be with DACA, it can be somewhere else so he’ll give that a shot somewhere else but to tie it in, I think we are all on the same page that we are not going to tie the wall to DACA,” Cuellar said.
Mr. Trump’s seeming deal with Democrats comes after he sided with Democrats over his own party on a debt limit extension last week, shocking Republican leaders and even some in his own White House staff. The president’s conversations with Democrats, along with his clearly expressed frustration with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, seem to indicate he will continue pursuing Democrats to get things done in the future.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a staunch conservative, called the president’s purported DACA deal with Democrats, “Unbelievable.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, who has parted ways with the president on a handful of issues lately, praised the reported agreement.
Gottheimer, co-chairman of the Problem Solvers Coalition, also told CBS News Mr. Trump asked the coalition to form a bipartisan commission on tax reform and infrastructure, and asked them to work on those issues with Gary Cohn, the president’s top economic adviser.
Schumer and Pelosi said they also talked with Mr. Trump about stabilizing health care markets, with Republicans unable to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, as Mr. Trump had pledged to do.
“We also urged the president to make permanent the cost-sharing reduction payments, and those discussions will continue,” the Pelosi-Schumer statement said.
CBS News’ Nancy Cordes contributed to this report.