One thing that people can say about Senator Lindsey Graham is that he is consistent.
The South Carolina Republican Senator, a mainstay at the legislative body for decades, attempted to broker a deal with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin that would effectively give away the farm on DACA in exchange for an agreement light on accomplishing White House objectives.
Sen. Graham addressed reporters on Thursday.
“Mitch McConnell’s decided the body will find its own voice,” he said. “They’re not going to be locked down by thinking about what the House might do or what the White House might do. We’re going to move on our own.”
Graham was already facing an uphill battle due to his reputation among conservatives for being one prominent voice in the Gang of 8, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats who pushed for what critics claimed amounted to “amnesty” for illegal aliens.
He crossed the line further, according to reports, by impugning the role of White House adviser Stephen Miller, calling him an “outlier” on immigration to reporters.
“I’ve talked with the president,” Graham said. “His heart is right on this issue. I think he’s got a good understanding of what will sel. And every time we have a proposal it is only yanked back by staff members. As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere. He has been an outlier for years. There’s a deal to be had.”
“As long as Sen. Graham chooses to support legislation that sides with people in this country illegally and unlawfully instead of our own American citizens, we’re going nowhere,” White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley responded.
“It is almost appalling to me that you have a senator that isn’t stepping up, doing the right thing,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Fox News following Graham’s remarks. “Look, we want to make a deal on DACA. We want to do these things. And the fact that he’s not part of the conversation to help move that ball forward and is instead attacking individual members of the president’s staff, I think, shows… they’re going to blame people for their own failures. And I think it’s time that they stop playing political games, come to the table, get serious and do their jobs.”
It looks like Graham has further made himself persona non grata at the White House, at least as far as an immigration deal is concerned. As Washington Examiner correspondent Sarah Westwood reports, the Trump administration is relegating Graham to the sidelines.
“Anything that Graham is a leader on is, honestly, dead on arrival in terms of the White House and also in the House,” a GOP aide reportedly told Westwood.
“The problem right now, even more than policies, is the personalities, the people who want to spearhead their sides of the aisle,” the aide continued in reference to Graham and Durbin. “I don’t think Graham carries weight in the GOP conference. And not Durbin either.”
“What Sen. Graham, Sen. Durbin, [Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff] Flake, those kinds of people are doing relative to a DACA bill is just not where [Trump] is, and not where the Senate and the House is,” a senior White House official told the Examiner.
President Trump recently made waves among his conservative base by signaling that a DACA deal is going to get done and a pathway to citizenship is on the table.
“It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years,” Trump said to reporters.
A Republican committee is touting a more conservative immigration reform bill Securing America’s Future Act, which “gives legal status to certain younger illegal immigrants in exchange for a host of conservative immigration reforms.“
Meanwhile, the Breitbart website has dubbed Trump “Amnesty Don” for considering a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 800,000 children of illegal immigrants shielded by former President Obama’s executive action DACA.