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Party leaders trade jabs as senators continue discussions

As the government shutdown entered its second day, a group of lawmakers were working on a deal to reopen the government. Both the House and Senate were in session Sunday and leaders from both parties said they wanted to end the shutdown, while directing blame squarely at each other. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield joins Hari Sreenivasan for analysis.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    For some analysis, I am now joined from Santa Barbara, California by NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent, Jeff Greenfield. Jeff, the parties have spent so much time trying to make sure that this sticks on the other guy, so to speak, but it seems that both of them have some something to pay here. Let's start with the Republicans. What's the cost to them?

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    Well, they're in charge of everything – the House, the Senate, presidency – and so the normal reaction would be that if something goes bluey, the party in power would get blamed. And also broadly speaking, the issue that's hanging this whole shutdown, the DACA program that is supported in general by massive majorities of Americans in both parties. And so their fear might be that in not exceeding to what the Dreamers need and tying up the government, they'll look like despite all the power that they now have that they're simply unable to govern. And that's I think one of their big concerns.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Despite the framing by Republicans, this might be about the Dreamers, but that kind of attack ad that comes out – the campaign ad – really paints the Democrats, 'complicit,' I think, is their word, in all future murders from illegal immigrants.

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    That is a startling ad. And what's so startling about it is the head snapping turn that it required from what the President's been saying all along, you know – I want a bill of love, we really don't want to punish those people who came here as children. And periodically during this whole run up telling first senators Durbin and Graham and then Senator Schumer, yeah we can work out a deal. And now basically saying if there's anybody who dies at the hands of any illegal immigrant, you blame the Democrats. I mean that that is that is cranking it up to 11, if I can put it that way.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right let's talk about the cost to democrats here. What do they have to lose?

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    This is a really interesting dilemma. I think the party funds itself and nationally, the party has moved well to the left not just on social issues but on immigration. There was a time when a lot of Democrats sided with labor unions and say, we don't want a lot of low skilled immigrants to come here. But now, the Democrats in the Senate who are thinking of running for president, it looks like half of them, you know, Cory Booker and Gillibrand, and Harris, and others are saying no, no we have to make protection of the immigrants the absolute red line here that we can't cross. But you also have five senate Democrats running for re-election in very red states where immigration is a lot less popular. Those national numbers don't play there. And that's one of the reasons why four of those incumbent Democrats voted with the Republicans to keep the government open. There is some concern among Democrats that if they're seen to be shutting down the government simply to protect undocumented or if you prefer illegal immigrants that may be a political cost.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right what about the President?

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    How many times have we sat here and I said this is not normal? What you have here is a president who claims to be the great deal maker, who on repeated occasions has set forth the idea of a deal that then has been pulled back. Both with Senators Lindsey and Graham, they came down to the White House, the President said, come on down let's talk. They found themselves surrounded by very hard line anti-immigrant staff members and a couple of hard line senators. Chuck Schumer went down, negotiated over cheeseburgers – a couple of hours later he was told, forget it. And so that's why you had none other than Mitch McConnell saying, you know we really have to know where the President stands before we can come through with agreement.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right Jeff Greenfield joining us from Santa Barbara California. Thanks so much.

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    OK.

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