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Jeff Flake claims commitment for Senate DACA vote in January

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Posted at 10:43 AM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 11:43:47-05

Sen. Jeff Flake on Wednesday said that he had received a commitment for a vote on an immigration compromise in January -- the latest sign a deal won't be reached this year as Democrats wanted, but could shape up in the new year.

In a statement and tweet after the Senate passed Republicans' long-fought tax bill, Flake said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had "committed" to him there would be a vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

"While I would have written a much different bill, this bill lowers the corporate tax rate in a manner that makes us globally competitive. I am also pleased that the Majority Leader has committed to bring the bipartisan DACA bill we are currently negotiating to the Senate floor in January," Flake, an Arizona Republican, said.

Flake had been hesitant on the tax package, but in negotiations said one of his requirements had been a commitment to progress on a plan to provide a permanent legislative version of DACA, which President Donald Trump is ending.

A McConnell spokesman did not have an immediate comment after Flake's statement.

White House meeting

Flake, a long-time immigration reform advocate, met Wednesday at the White House with key Senate negotiators and Trump's chief of staff John Kelly, three sources familiar with the meeting confirmed. Details of the meeting were first reported by Politico.

The meeting was "very productive" and "moved the ball forward" toward a possible deal in the new year, a source familiar with the meeting said.

According to one of the sources, Kelly indicated to the group that the White House would be putting together some of its priorities for a deal after the meeting.

An earlier release from the White House about its immigration wish-list was a comprehensive compilation of virtually all of what conservatives want on immigration, and was written off by Democrats as containing multiple poison pills. The White House has not yet indicated where its red lines are on those principles.

In the meeting, a group of senators, which includes Flake, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, and Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Thom Tillis, James Lankford and Cory Gardner, discussed the progress of their negotiations, which have included regular meetings in Durbin's office.

The group has resolved some issues with how to legislate DACA, which protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation, but is still heavily negotiating border security measures to pair with it and how to handle Trump desire to reform "chain migration," or family-based migration.

The meeting also included other key Republicans like Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, who have been in contact with the members of the working group.