Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had credible reasons to believe he could help negotiate some kind of resolution to the ongoing government shutdown. Not only does the GOP senator enjoy close ties to Donald Trump, he's also played a key role within his party on immigration policy, having helped craft the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" bill.
With this in mind, when there was scuttlebutt on Capitol Hill this week about Graham working behind the scenes on a possible deal, it was at least worth watching. Yesterday, however, those efforts collapsed -- because of White House opposition. Politico reported:
President Donald Trump has rejected a plan proposed by a bloc of Senate Republicans who had hoped to break an impasse over the government shutdown, leaving Congress and the White House with little obvious way out of the extended battle over Trump's border wall.On the 20th day of the shutdown, the GOP group tried to jump start bipartisan talks before Trump declares a national emergency to get his wall. But the president rejected their idea to allow congressional committees to sort out his border wall request while the government reopened, deeming the idea likely to leave him with nothing to show for the shutdown.
Some of the relevant details of the plan remain elusive, but by all accounts, there was a proposal on the table. Vice President Mike Pence and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney took it to the president, who balked.
Of particular interest, though, is whom Graham negotiated with. In this case, the Republican South Carolinian worked on a deal with other Republicans, and Democrats were excluded from the process altogether. Despite the fact that Dems control the House, and many Democratic votes would be needed in the Senate, the party was "left out" of the talks and "were never read in" on the proposal.
Even Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), arguably Congress' most conservative Democrat, and a lawmaker who said he's prepared to work on a possible compromise, wasn't invited to the discussions.
What we're left with is a dynamic in which Republicans negotiated a deal with other Republicans, only to be shot down by a Republican president.
Not surprisingly, Graham announced soon after he'd given up on trying to find a resolution to the shutdown.
It was around this time that Vice President Pence summarized the administration's position: "No wall, no deal."
Remember when White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said, "Always saying 'wall' or 'no wall' is being very disingenuous"? That was 12 days ago.