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Democratic lawmaker floats idea to reopen government and end "self-inflicted crisis"

Rep. Ro Khanna floats plan to end shutdown

Progressive Congressman Ro Khanna, D-California, is proposing a solution to try to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. He says the White House and congressional leaders could appoint outside negotiators to broker a budget agreement and end the gridlock.

Khanna's proposal would involve President Trump appointing two representatives to hold talks with four congressional negotiators, two appointed by the Democratic-controlled House and two appointed by the Republican-controlled Senate. Then they'd look for common ground all six could agree on.

"Let's come up with six-zero proposals to get government back on track," Khanna said on CBSN's "Red & Blue" on Tuesday. "I don't know if the president would go for that because he hasn't been interested in real compromise to get government back open, but it was an idea I floated."

The White House and congressional Democrats continue to be locked in an impasse over negotiations to reopen the government, which has been partially closed since Dec. 22. On Saturday, the president unveiled what he billed as a "compromise" on immigration that would end the shutdown, but the offer received widespread criticism from both sides even before Mr. Trump officially announced it.

The proposed deal would entail the White House supporting legislation to extend temporary immigration protections to those who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) if Congress approves $5.7 billion in funding to construct a barrier along the southern border and bolster security.

Democrats denounced it as a cynical attempt by the president to use DACA recipients as bargaining chips to fund his border wall. Immigration hawks, meanwhile, branded the White House's proposal "amnesty" and said it would not fully secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

Senators are scheduled to vote on the president's proposal — as well as on the funding bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House, which does not include money for Mr. Trump's border wall — on Thursday afternoon. Both proposals currently do not have enough support to pass.

Khanna said it is unlikely that any of his fellow Democrats will defect and support the bill proposed by the White House. He said House Democrats are standing firmly behind their leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"One of the things the House caucus wants to convey is that we are unified. We have one spokesperson in the negotiation and that is Nancy Pelosi," Khanna added. "And we are not going to engage with the president trying to pick off any individual members."

Khanna said the president should reopen the government so Congress can work on comprehensive legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration system. But the Silicon Valley lawmaker added that Mr. Trump is focused on fulfilling his signature campaign pledge of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"This is a self-inflicted crisis caused by incompetent management because the president cares about his campaign pledge," he said.