White House backs bill to halt aid to Palestinians
The Trump administration declared its firm support Thursday for a bill that would suspend U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it ends what critics have described as a long-standing practice of rewarding Palestinians who kill Americans and Israelis.
The State Department announcement comes nearly six weeks after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed the measure. eventual path to citizenship.
“We’re not looking at citizenship, we’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here,” Trump told reporters as he traveled to view hurricane damage in Florida. “And we’re working with everybody. Republican. We’re working with Democrat.”
“But very importantly, what we want: We have to have a wall,” Trump said. “If we don’t have a wall, we’re doing nothing.”
Despite Trump’s denial, two people briefed on Wednesday night’s proceedings said that citizenship was explicitly mentioned when Democrats raised the DREAM Act. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who was among the group dining on Chinese food (a Schumer favorite) in the White House Blue Room, spoke up that the bill does include citizenship, according to the people briefed, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the private proceedings.
Whether or how Trump digested Mulvaney’s statement was unclear. But the posture struck by Ryan and others on Capitol Hill seemed designed to protect the president from a backlash from his conservative base. Ryan energetically disputed the idea that any deal had been struck, though his argument seemed to turn largely on semantic distinctions.
“These were discussions not negotiations, there isn’t an agreement,” Ryan said. “The president wasn’t negotiating a deal last night. The president was talking with Democratic leaders to get their perspective. I think the president understands that he’s going to have to work with the congressional majorities to get any kind of legislative solution.”
For their part, immigrant advocates and Latino lawmakers reacted cautiously.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., a leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the caucus hasn’t seen any details, and “we’re not going to trade the protection of Dreamers for the deportation of others.”
“I don’t think the president actually understands what he’s saying half the time,” Gallego said. “So I’m afraid that if you strike a deal with him, that he’ll go back on his word at any point.”