U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham hasn’t been successful in ending the federal government shutdown yet, so the South Carolina Republican has taken a new approach. He’s calling out those he believes are the biggest obstacles in preventing a bipartisan agreement on immigration that will put the government back to work.
Graham used Twitter Sunday to send a message about who he sees as the problem. It isn’t President Donald Trump, and it isn’t White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly. But it is somebody else in the White House that has Trump’s ear.
“President Trump has expressed a desire to have border security with compassion on immigration. #winningcombination. General Kelly is tough but reasonable. Some other staff in the White House hold extreme and unrealistic views. They hold us back from getting a solution,” Graham tweeted.
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Shortly after his message on social media, Graham was more specific about the aide he sees as the primary culprit. Before heading into a meeting with senators from both sides of the aisle, Graham laid into White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller to a large assembly of reporters.
“As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years. There’s a deal to be had,” Graham said.
The White House fired back at Graham.
“As long as Senator Graham chooses to support legislation that sides with people in this country illegally and unlawfully instead of our own American citizens, we are going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.
Miller is an immigration hardliner and has a track record of working against immigration compromises. In 2013, he helped scuttle a proposal while he worked as a staffer for then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is now the attorney general.
Miller helped craft the White House’s first executive order to bar entry into the United States for residents of seven predominantly Muslim nations.
“I’ve talked with the president – his heart is right on this issue,” Graham told reporters. “He’s got a good understanding of what will sell, and every time we have a proposal it is only yanked back by staff members.”
The bipartisan Senate group met Sunday with the goal of crafting a proposal to set up an immigration vote in that chamber, as well as an agreement to reopen the government until Feb. 8.
“This shutdown is going to get a lot worse tomorrow. A lot worse,” Graham said, according to The New York Times. “Today would be a good day to end it.”