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By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Frank Thorp V

WASHINGTON — A last-ditch effort by a handful of Senate Republicans to reopen the government abruptly ended just 24 hours after it began in yet another sign that the government shutdown is nowhere near ending. It’s rapid demise also showed there is little goodwill remaining between Democrats, Republicans and the president.

An exasperated Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who launched the effort Wednesday morning with fellow Republicans frustrated by an ongoing impasse, told reporters, “I’m done.”

“I don’t know who to talk to, and I don’t know what else to do,” Graham added.

The end of the effort happened as fast as it began. Graham organized a group of four other Republican senators, all of whom have expressed concern about the shutdown — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — to come up with a proposal that would give President Donald Trump what he wants for border security while adding provisions that the Democrats want.

Members involved in the discussions knew that the idea was a long shot but still they tried to fill a void in negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had taken a backseat, repeatedly saying that it is up to Democrats and Trump to reach an agreement.

“We have a role here as lawmakers, and you have a group of individuals that are coming together and seeing if we can make something happen,” Murkowski told reporters Thursday morning.

The group pitched their ideas to McConnell in the morning. They proposed re-opening the government for a short period of time to give time for broader discussions, according to one senator involved in the negotiations. The boarder discussion could encompass relief for Dreamers eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or assistance for 400,000 immigrants who from Haiti and Central American who are set to lose their Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, this year, senators said.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence was on Capitol Hill, meeting with individual members, including Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who also wants an immediate end to the shutdown. Gardner said he spoke to Pence about “ways to bring (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi back to the table.”

Pelosi didn’t outright dismiss the idea of adding DACA to the negotiations. She said Democrats are “absolutely” ready to discuss Dreamers, but memories of the last round of talks on border funding and a DACA deal have resurfaced.

“You saw what happened last time. Trump backed out,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

And Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who was part of the bipartisan group negotiating the 2018 immigration deal, said the White House is a difficult negotiating partner.

“I spent six weeks doing that last winter. We got to a good result and the White House torpedoed it,” King said. “So the real question is ‘What’s the point?’”

Even Sen. Tillis noted that the president is the unknown factor in negotiations.

“We gotta know what the president wants,” he said.

Republicans were cautiously optimistic that the White House would be open to the idea. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner attended the gathering in Graham’s office on Wednesday and one Republican senator told NBC that he was optimistic about a broader compromise after speaking with the president and his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney this week.

“They supported it then, which I think is a decent indication.” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said, referring to the president’s support of a $25 billion wall in exchange for legal status for DACA recipients.

But then the White House gave signals that it would not entertain the idea.

“If the Supreme Court rules against the President Obama decision, which he knew would not hold up, we will have a deal with the dreamers,” Trump said while visiting the southern border in Texas on Thursday.

The negotiations ended Thursday afternoon, one day after they began.

“It’s very difficult when we’re dealing with people who do not want to budge at all in their positions, and that’s the president and Speaker Pelosi,” Collins said. “They are each very dug in on their positions and that’s made this very difficult to resolve.”

And now Graham, who was opposed to Trump declaring a national emergency, released a statement saying that Trump should declare a national emergency.

“It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier,” Graham wrote in a statement.

Garrett Haake contributed.



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Brexit news: Will Queen be forced to SUSPEND Parliament?

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HARD Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested Theresa May could prevent an extension to Article 50 and a delay to Brexit by shutting down Parliament early.

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Hakeem Jeffries defends calling Trump ‘Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’

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Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Allan Smith

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is standing by remarks he made Monday in which he called President Donald Trump “the Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

In an interview Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day,” the House Democratic Caucus chairman said he had no regrets about the comment, which he made at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in New York City.

“We’ve got to have an opportunity for at least one day a year to have a candid if sometimes uncomfortable conversation about race,” Jeffries told CNN. “It seems to me that we can’t have that conversation on Valentine’s Day, we can’t have that conversation on Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s perhaps appropriate for us to be able to have that difficult discussion on MLK Day, when we’re celebrating the life and legacy of a champion for racial and social justice.”

Monday was not the first time Jeffries labeled Trump as such. But he told CNN that he “absolutely” does not think Trump is a Ku Klux Klan member. “Grand Wizard” is the title that was given to leaders of the white supremacist group.

“I did not use the words racist in any of my comments,” Jeffries said. “In fact, Wolf Blitzer in the past has asked me whether I believe the president is a racist, and I’ve consistently said no. I did use a colorful phrase, but of course I don’t believe that the president is a card-carrying member of the KKK. But it did capture a troubling pattern of racially insensitive and outrageous, at times, behavior that spans not months, not years, but decades.”

As examples, Jeffries cited a Justice Department lawsuit against the Trumps in the 1970s for alleged housing discrimination, the president’s remarks about the so-called Central Park Five, Trump’s promotion of the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and the president’s handling of the fatal violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.

Jeffries wasn’t the only Democratic leader to attack Trump’s racial record over the Monday holiday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in South Carolina: “It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we now have a president of the United States who is a racist.”

In response, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted that Sanders’ remark was “disgusting and wrong.”

@realDonaldTrump has brought African American and Hispanic unemployment to record lows, passed historic criminal justice reform. Even worse that Bernie is using MLK Day to make an incendiary comment like that,” McDaniel wrote.



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Brexit latest: 'Mayhem' as Remainer MPs plot to halt UK leaving the EU

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