Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday blasted White House staff for undercutting efforts to craft a deal on immigration and end the ongoing government shutdown.
Speaking with reporters, Graham singled out White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller as an “outlier,” and said despite President Donald Trump’s willingness to forge a deal, his aides have made such negotiations difficult.
“Every time we have a proposal it is only yanked back by staff members,” Graham said. “As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we’re going nowhere.”
“He’s been an outlier for years, there’s a deal to be had,” he added.
Miller, a former aide to then-Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions who joined the Trump transition team in 2016, has long held hardline views on immigration. He helped craft the White House’s first executive order to bar entry into the United States for residents of seven predominantly Muslim nations and has been a vocal proponent for the construction of a wall along America’s southern border.
Graham on Sunday pointed to the meddling of White House aides, saying Trump initially wanted a cheaper proposal for the border wall following estimates that requested $18 billion for its construction.
“So what does the White House staff do a couple of days later? They pitch a proposal for $33 billion,” Graham said. “That’s just not credible.”
In a tweet later that day, Graham expressed similar support for the president and his chief of staff, John Kelly, who he called “tough but reasonable.” But he continued to slam others in the White House, saying they held “extreme and unrealistic views.”
“They hold us back from getting a solution,” Graham said.
A bipartisan group of senators met behind closed doors late Sunday in an effort to find a compromise to end the shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had scheduled a procedural vote on a temporary spending bill for 1 a.m. on Monday.
“This shutdown is going to get a lot worse tomorrow. A lot worse,” he said, according to The New York Times. “Today would be a good day to end it.”