More than 20 moderates in the upper chamber gathered in Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ office Sunday afternoon in an attempt to hash out a bipartisan deal on a continuing resolution to present their party leaders.
The fiery rhetoric between Senate leadership on who is responsible for the lapse in federal funding has failed to temper on day two of the government shutdown, but the bipartisan group is hopeful they can strike an agreement that can garner the 60 votes needed to send a measure back to the House.
“We recognize that ultimately it is the decision that [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer as to how to proceed and we’re not trying to preempt that,” Collins told reporters. “But we are trying to be helpful in showing them that there is a path forward and that a substantial number of senators from both parties are eager to find that path forward.”
It remains unclear whether McConnell or Schumer — who opted not to meet with each other Saturday but were scheduled to resume talks Sunday — will agree to move forward with a proposal the group puts forward.
“Well, the only thing I’m saying you have 22 people who work very well together,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters. “If leadership could work like we do we’d be in good shape.”
With Democrats refusing to vote for a stopgap until an immigration agreement providing protections for DREAMers is reached, the group is hoping for a three-week measure and a vote on a bipartisan DACA bill. House Republicans and the White House maintain immigration discussions won’t resume until the end of the government shutdown.
“I think the senators in that room, people losing when it comes to a government shut down, the consensus in that room is it’s now time to do immigration,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters. “It’s best to do it together as part of an overall effort to solve other problems.”
Graham argued administration officials have made it difficult to come to an agreement on immigration, namely senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.
“As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration we are going nowhere,” he told reporters. “He’s been an outlier for years.”