Cornyn says Democrats hold spending bill hostage on immigration
The Republican leader said he doubts lawmakers can resolve partisan differences before a January 19 deadline

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas accused Democrats of holding “hostage” any agreement on a spending bill to prevent a government shutdown until they get assurances that young undocumented immigrants will be shielded from deportation.

Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican leader, said Monday he doubts lawmakers can resolve partisan differences before a January 19 deadline. 

Speaking to reporters a day before a White House meeting on immigration, Cornyn said Democrats won’t agree to new spending caps for domestic and defense programs that are key to writing a broad spending bill for this fiscal year. 

First, they are demanding a compromise that would include extending President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections for 800,000 immigrants, he said.

Lawmakers in both parties are digging in before the meeting among President Donald Trump, top administration officials and 20 lawmakers from both parties to see if they can agree on an immigration deal that would include protection for the young immigrants.

Trump has been reiterating his demands in recent days, seeking various immigration changes, including a fortified wall at the US-Mexico border, an end to a diversity visa lottery system and an end to family-based immigration policies.

“We are going to end chain migration. We are going to end the lottery system. And we are going to build the wall,” the president said Monday at an event in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York blamed the White House, not Senate Republicans, for hampering the immigration talks.

“To throw down a list from the hard-line wing of the White House at the last minute is not a very fortuitous or smart thing to do,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday. 

He said the administration has repeatedly been a disruptive force in negotiations.

What a “wall” would look like has been the subject of debate among Republicans. Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 Republican, told reporters Monday that “a wall can be defined in a lot of different ways.”