Senate takes on immigration issue amid election pressures

Senate takes on immigration issue amid election pressures

The chamber voted 97-1 to proceed to debate on a legislative vehicle for members to work out a bill to address the future of almost 700,000 unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and were protected from deportation by the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Unlike the Senate - where the GOP has a 51-49 majority but legislation needs 60 votes to pass - Republicans in the House have a large enough majority that they don't need a single Democrat's support.

LOUISVILLE - In a show of bipartisan spirit Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, shared a stage in Louisville on Monday morning, days after finding consensus on a two-year budget deal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has used a bill unrelated to immigration as the starting point for the debate, which will allow senators to offer proposals that can compete for 60 votes to advance. It would pave a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million young "Dreamer" immigrants in the US illegally, a lure for Democrats that many Republicans oppose. This is where Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) comes into play.

Debate has swirled around the DACA program - which provided temporary deportation protections and work authorization to almost 800,000 immigrants who came to the country as children - since President Donald Trump phased out the program to end on March 5, 2018. "Whoever gets to 60 [votes] wins", McConnell said. Many Democrats consider some of the proposals, including limiting the relatives that legal immigrants can bring to the USA, to be non-starters.

Schumer said Democrats won't give up if they don't reach a solution by the end of the week.

Instead of going to the Toomey bill, Schumer suggested McConnell should bring up two proposals that he said mark the "bounds" of the immigration debate.

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The hazy Senate process is expected to include votes on a wide range of proposals, including a version of a framework released in January by the White House. It also includes changes that would cut the number of legal immigrants allowed to come to the U.S.

But Trump and conservative Republicans have insisted that any immigration bill also include funding for a wall along the USA border with Mexico, as well as ending "chain family migration" and the diversity visa lottery program.

"We're going to keep fighting every way we can", Schumer told reporters while repeating his demand that GOP-leaning amendments be kept out of the debate. If so, Republicans will get a harvest of votes to hold against vulnerable Democratic senators in November; Republicans can, I suppose, continue their far-fetched claim that it was the Democrats who betrayed the Dreamers; and McConnell can claim to have fulfilled his promise.

Tim Kaine, who is part of a bipartisan group negotiating on the topic.

Under the judge's order, the government is required to continue processing DACA renewal requests for people who already are enrolled in the program and those whose enrollment lapsed before September 5, 2017. MSNBC reported on Monday that Flake would be a hard "no" on any bill with such a proposal.

Asked whether she thought it was feasible for the Senate to accomplish such a monumental task in just one week as Republican leaders expect, she said she hoped so, but added, "I don't know".

Back then, I was the chief of staff for Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of four Senate Republicans involved in crafting the bipartisan compromise. "Now is not the time nor the place to reform the entire legal immigration system".

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