Lindsey Graham trying to put together last-ditch deal to end the shutdown

Does the deal involve a word that begins with “A” and ends with “mnesty”? No ending to an Ann-Coulter-led push for a big fight over the wall would be more ironic than Trump agreeing to amnestize a few millions DREAMers to resolve it.

Also, does POTUS realize that the entire reason Graham has been so gung ho on fighting for the wall lately is because he hoped/expected it would lead to a DREAM deal? I know you know that because you’ve been following immigration politics and Graham’s squishy role in it for years. I’m asking if Trump knows. Graham, I think, viewed this standoff as an opportunity from day one to get something for righties that they covet so dearly that they might agree to DREAM in exchange for it, especially under these particular circumstances. The more the political pressure surrounding the shutdown builds, the more important it is for Trump to “win” by getting the wall any way he can. Graham’s trying to exploit that dynamic, believing that it’ll momentarily make him and populists more amenable to DREAM.

It’s not going to matter, though. The only way this sh*tshow ends now is with an emergency declaration and the government reopening.

After Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders, GOP senators [Graham, Collins, Murkowski, Tillis, Alexander, Portman] privately gathered in Sen. Lindsey Graham’s office Wednesday to discuss a way out of the logjam. The long-shot idea: propose an immigration deal that would include $5.7 billion for Trump’s border wall along with several provisions that could entice Democrats.

Those items include changes to help those who are a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as well as immigrants from El Salvador and other countries impacted by the Temporary Protected Status program – along with modifications to H-2B visas

GOP senators pitched the idea to senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who said if they came up with a proposal that got Trump his border wall money and could pass the Senate, the White House would be open to more discussions on the matter, the source said. He did not say Trump would endorse such a plan.

That’s as close as Kushner could get to a hard no without actually using the word. Why would any Senate Republican, let alone Senate Democrat, take a tough vote on a deal that’s bound to annoy both sides without a guarantee up front from the White House that Trump would support it?

Graham’s other problem is finding seven Senate Democrats to cross the aisle who are facing such tough reelections in 2020 that they’d conclude they’re better off stabbing their own party in the back by voting with Republicans. That might have worked three months ago, when a bunch of red-state Dems were staring down the barrel of a tough midterm. But most of those people have now either been safely reelected (Manchin, Tester) or sent home (McCaskill, Nelson). The only red-state Democrat under serious threat of defeat in 2020 is Doug Jones and he’s probably a goner no matter how he votes on the shutdown. Even if you include purple-staters like Tina Smith and Gary Peters, you’re still not close to the 60-vote threshold. And that assumes all Republicans would support Graham’s deal. Anyone think Tom Cotton will vote for it? How about Ted Cruz?

I assume Graham’s calculating that the shutdown will soon be so onerous to so many Americans that senators from both parties will be scrambling for any way to end it. But the obvious outcome in that scenario is an avalanche in favor of a clean spending bill that can be passed immediately, not some complicated “wall-for-amnesty” deal with all sorts of moving parts that would need to be bargained over. They’d have to pass a short-term stopgap bill to reopen government while Graham’s bill is negotiated, with the looming prospect of another shutdown if they can’t agree. And neither side ultimately has an incentive to do it. Pelosi’s resolved to flex her legislative muscle by refusing to give Trump a wall no matter what he offers in return. And Trump thinks he has an ace in the hole in the form of an emergency decree that would let him fund the wall with Pentagon money without giving Democrats anything. Neither side needs to give up anything and lose face in the process for this embarrassing episode to end, so they won’t.

Here he is this morning. Note to any White House advisors: Maybe pull him aside and try to explain that the longer he waits on an emergency decree and the more transparent he is about using it as negotiating leverage, the easier it’s going to be for a judge to say there’s no real emergency within the scope of the law.