President Donald Trump insisted Wednesday that any bill to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants should include funding for a border wall, sparking more confusion after contradictory statements in recent days.
"It's got to include the wall. ... Any solution has to include the wall because without the wall it doesn't work," the president said at a joint White House news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
At a Tuesday meeting with bipartisan lawmakers, Trump signaled that he would sign any legislative solution to shield the undocumented immigrants that Congress passes.
Democrats and many Republicans do not want to authorize federal funds to build Trump's proposed physical barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September with a six-month delay. Under the administration's plan, DACA would end March 5 unless Congress can pass the protections into law.
A judge's decision Tuesday night to temporarily block Trump's move to end DACA complicates that timeline.
A bipartisan working group of senators met Wednesday afternoon to try to hash out an agreement on legislation. Republicans want increased border security measures in exchange for DACA protections.
Earlier in the day, working group member Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told reporters that the senators are "very close" to having legislation they can release.
On Wednesday afternoon, several House Republicans released an immigration bill that they called a "starting point." It would put DACA into law but also fund the border wall and end so-called chain migration. The legislation takes a more conservative stance than a Senate bill likely would.
Democratic leaders want to tie DACA to a must-pass government spending bill. Congress faces a Jan. 19 deadline to avert a government shutdown.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wanted to pass the two pieces of legislation separately.
Passing DACA protections into law has broad bipartisan support, though disagreement remains over what measures should go with it. Many major American companies have also pushed for Congress to protect the undocumented immigrants.