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McConnell to pair bills to reopen government with Trump’s immigration plan

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In a bid to put pressure on Democrats, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, plans this week to bring up legislation that would immediately reopen the government and incorporate President Donald Trump's proposal to offer temporary protections to some immigrants in exchange for US$5.7 billion for his border wall, a top aide to Mr McConnell said Sunday.

[WASHINGTON] In a bid to put pressure on Democrats, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, plans this week to bring up legislation that would immediately reopen the government and incorporate President Donald Trump's proposal to offer temporary protections to some immigrants in exchange for US$5.7 billion for his border wall, a top aide to Mr McConnell said Sunday.

By coupling government funding with the plan Mr Trump unveiled on Saturday, Mr McConnell is hoping to shift blame for the shutdown to Democrats, who have said repeatedly that they will not negotiate over border security until the government is fully open.

But there was no indication from Democrats on Sunday that they would abandon that position. And some doubted that Mr McConnell would even bring legislation to the floor, because of pressure from conservative critics who regard Mr Trump's proposal as amnesty for those who came to the United States illegally.

Polls show the public largely blames Mr Trump for the shutdown, and his advisers have been searching for an exit strategy. In an address from the White House on Saturday, Mr Trump offered to restore the temporary protections he took away from certain unauthorized immigrants, including the young people known as Dreamers, and those from Latin American and African countries, in exchange for border wall funding.

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But Democrats, who want permanent protections for those immigrants, have denounced the plan as "hostage taking," saying the president is only offering to give back what he himself took away.

"If he opens up the government, we'll discuss whatever he offers, but hostage taking should not work," Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, told reporters in New York before Mr McConnell's aide spoke. "The American people are overwhelmingly against it. The president's polling ratings are plummeting because even his own supporters agree that this is a bad tactic and it's very hard to negotiate when a gun is held to your head."

Mr McConnell's aide, Don Stewart, said the Republican package would include seven appropriations bills that would fund government agencies that have been partially closed for a month, as well as billions of dollars in disaster relief.

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