Today on the Hill: Omnibus Deal Remains Elusive as Trump, Congress Meet on Immigration

Yesterday saw two significant developments in the immigration piece of ongoing negotiations on a deal to fund the government and address other deadline-oriented legislative items. First, President Trump hosted a bipartisan meeting at the White House to discuss immigration and signaled that he may be open to a deal that not only protects those covered by the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program, but also a comprehensive immigration proposal that would provide a legal answer for the millions of illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. While the meeting was generally well-received by both parties, lawmakers appear no closer to striking an omnibus agreement that would fund the government through the end of September.

The second immigration development came as a surprise last night when a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the Trump Administration’s move to phase out the DACA program was illegal. According to U.S. District Judge William Alsup, the Justice Department’s legal opinion rationalizing the DACA move — which charged that the Obama Administration had overstepped its legal authority in creating DACA — is based on a “flawed legal premise” and that DACA “was and remains a lawful exercise of authority.” However, immigrant advocates believe the decision will only provide temporary relief for beneficiaries of the program, meaning that the decision is unlikely to ease the pressure on Congress to craft a legislative solution for the so-called “Dreamers.”

Floor action remains more mundane than the off-floor negotiations taking place this week. The Senate has two votes scheduled today: one to confirm Thomas Parker as a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee and another to invoke cloture on the nomination of Michael Brown to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia. The nominees considered this week have all been approved on near-unanimous margins so far.

Action on the House floor today includes consideration of a bill (S.140) that would clarify the amounts in the White Mountain Apache Tribe settlement fund, as well as a vote on a suspension bill (H.R. 4567) that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement an overseas personnel enhancement plan.