With the U.S. now on day three of a federal shutdown, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders disputed any notion that President Donald Trump is not being clear about what he wants in any deal to reopen the government.
"He wants to make a deal on DACA," the program that protects young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, Sanders said. "The fact that Democrats are trying to pretend as if that is something that we haven't put on the table is disingenuous and a bit ridiculous."
“First and foremost we have to reopen our government. We have to fund our government. As soon as that is done, we're more than happy to negotiate on responsible immigration reform,” she said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has raised questions about the clarity of the president’s positions in talks to reopen the government. “We don’t have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with,” Graham said
Sanders said on "GMA" today that if congressional leaders are unsure where the president stands, “then maybe sometimes they're not paying attention."
Stephanopoulos also pressed Sanders on how engaged Trump is in negotiations to end the shutdown. The president did not participate in any meetings over the weekend with congressional leaders.
“The president has been engaged," the press secretary said. "I think that different circumstances call for a different type of leadership. He's been incredibly engaged. He’s spent a lot of time on the phone.”
Sanders added that Trump has had "a lot of meetings internally with staff here in the White House. They have been going back and forth with negotiations.”
The White House spokeswoman also addressed an ad that Trump’s re-election campaign put out over the weekend that implies Democrats will be “complicit” in any murders committed by undocumented immigrants.
“Look, the president's number-one job as commander in chief and the president is national security, and we cannot protect American citizens, we cannot protect this country, if we don't secure our border," Sanders said. "That's the point the president is trying to make.”
The Senate is slated to vote today at noon to proceed on a proposal that will fund the government through Feb. 8. Democrats are pushing to ensure that if they approve the short-term funding fix, Congress will address immigration issues and other policy matters in the coming weeks.