WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump on Thursday disputed a claim from congressional Democratic leaders that he agreed to a deal to protect people who were brought to the United States as children and remain in the country illegally.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the deal in a statement on Wednesday night, saying Trump agreed to protect from deportation the recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, in exchange for a border security package that did not include Trump’s long-promised border wall.
“No deal was made last night on DACA,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning, disputing Schumer and Pelosi’s account of the meeting. “Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.”
DACA was an Obama-era program that gave people who were in the country illegally after being brought to the United States as children a way to receive work permits and remain in the country so long as they met certain conditions. Trump cancelled the program earlier this month with a six-month delay, saying he hoped Congress could work out a legislative version of the program the Obama administration put in place without Congress passing a law.
“We had a very productive meeting at the White House with the president,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement Wednesday night. “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.”
While the statement, as well as multiple news reports, suggested that Trump had sided with Democrats, the White House did not say a deal was struck during the dinner, but rather that DACA was one of several topics discussed.
“This is a positive step towards the president’s strong commitment to bipartisan solutions for the issues most important to all Americans,” a White House official said in the statement. “The administration looks forward to continuing these conversations with leadership on both sides of the aisle.”
On Thursday, both Schumer and Pelosi sought to clarify their statements from the night before, explaining they meant they and the president agreed to a framework for going forward.
Whatever Trump and the Democratic leaders did actually agree on, it appears very similar to one he struck last week, when he sided with Democrats on attaching a temporary debt ceiling raise and government funding package to a relief package for areas recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
That deal surprised Republicans, who were hoping for a longer debt ceiling hike and funding agreement and a separate vote on the Harvey relief. While many Republicans have come out in favor of Congress passing a bill that would put into law at least some of DACA’s provisions, the agreement Schumer and Pelosi claim to have struck with Trump would cause the process to move faster than seemed likely.
On Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he could not remember DACA coming up at a meeting he attended at the White House and that there had been “a little bit” of movement towards legislation on the subject.
While Trump on Thursday disputed that he agreed to a deal on DACA, he also expressed sympathy for people who took advantage of the program.
“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Really! They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security.”
Republican leadership was quicker to embrace the apparent agreement than in the past Trump-Schumer-Pelosi deal, though they insisted more work would need to be done on border security and other issues.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement Thursday he looked forward to seeing Trump’s proposal, saying border security should be part of any deal on DACA.
Meanwhile, Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate, said he was open to Trump working with Democrats on the issue.
“It doesn’t bother me a bit,” Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told reporters. “I’m happy that people are talking. I think for myself the prerequisite to getting a successful negotiation on DACA is border security.”