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McConnell: 'All of the Members of the Republican Conference' Back Stopping Family Separation

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks to reporters at a news conference on Capitol Hill on June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Capitol Hill today that “all of the members of the Republican conference support a plan that keeps families together while their immigration status is determined,” though he left up in the air whether it would be a standalone bill or contain immigration riders sought by the White House.

McConnell said there was a “very robust discussion” within a closed Republican policy luncheon about “the need to fix the problem” of migrant children being separated from their parents.

“We hope to reach out to the Democrats and see if we can get a result, which means making a law, and not just get into some kind of sparring back and forth that leads to no conclusion,” he said.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) suggested that though there’s “a big backlog of immigration cases… what we would do is move these families to the head of the line.”

“In the interim, they would be in a humane, safe and secure family facility, and hopefully, we’ll get this problem addressed right away,” Cornyn said. “My hope is this is not going to be something we’re going to do over a matter of weeks and months, but something we could do in a matter of days, hopefully, this week.”

A CNN/SSRS poll released Monday found that, overall, only 28 percent of Americans surveyed agree with the separation policy. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans agreed, 5 percent of Democrats agreed, and 27 percent of independents approve of the policy.

McConnell predicted that the issue is “not going to tar anybody” in midterms because “we’re going to fix the problem.”

Pressed on whether it would be narrowly tailored legislation to address family separation, instead of adding items sought by President Trump such as border wall funding, the GOP leader replied, “Look, the first thing is to see if we can agree, and the second thing, then, is to see how you process this.”

“My assumption is in order to fix this problem, you can’t fix all the problems, because obviously, we’ve wrestled with this issue for a decade… This requires a solution, and I think therefore, obviously, it would need to be a narrow agreement to fix the problem that we all agree needs to be fixed,” he said.

“…I think we’ve got a problem. We need to fix it. Everybody agrees we need to fix it, and we’re going to work on that.”

On the Senate floor today, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded to President Trump tweeting “CHANGE THE LAWS” and stating that the administration’s policy is the result of a law that “Democrats forced upon the nation.”

“He’s ignoring reality, he’s contradicting his own administration. As commentator after commentator – Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative – has said: President Trump is simply not telling the truth and in a cowardly way,” Schumer said. “No law – no law – requires the separation of families at the border. That’s just not true.”

“The president alone can fix this with the flick of a pen. Mr. President, you should fix it. But if you don’t want change this cruel policy, at least admit that it is your decision,” he added. “Blaming others falsely is cheap, easy, and dishonest. A cheap way out, unbecoming of any president.”