Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Exclusive: Bannon says Rosenstein could be fired 'very shortly' MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said he will not use an immigration bill as the starting point for the Senate's debate on the issue.

"The bill I move to, which will not have underlying immigration text, will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

The GOP leader's comments are the first signal he's given about what legislation he will, or will not, use as the Senate's "base" bill, expected to be used as a vehicle for the immigration debate.

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He added on Wednesday that senators from both sides would be able to "alternate proposals for consideration and for votes."

"While I obviously cannot guarantee any outcome, let alone supermajority support, I can ensure the process is fair to all sides, and that is what I intend to do," he said.

McConnell is expected to tee up the Senate's base legislation this week once the chamber passes an agreement to fund the government and raise the budget caps. The move could pave the way for a free-wheeling debate on the Senate floor next week.

The announcement comes as senators are struggling to reach an agreement to prevent a heated debate on immigration, a political lightning rod for both parties' bases.

The No. 2's group — consisting of Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHouse easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions MORE (D-Ill.) and John CornynJohn CornynAdministration works to assuage critics over ZTE deal Dem leaders request bipartisan meeting on Russia probe House easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump MORE (R-Texas) and Reps. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDischarge petition efforts intensify as leadership seeks unity Immigration petition hits 204 as new Republican signs on Hannity endorses Jim Jordan for Speaker MORE (R-Calif.) and Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse approves 'right to try,' sends bill to Trump's desk Hillicon Valley: Mnuchin urges antitrust review of tech | Progressives want to break up Facebook | Classified election security briefing set for Tuesday | Tech CEOs face pressure to appear before Congress Pelosi: Discharge petition won't promote Trump's wall MORE (D-Md.) — have failed to get a broad agreement favored by the White House.

Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters earlier this week that the administration wanted its framework to be the Senate's starting point.

That proposal would have offered a path to citizenship to roughly 1.8 million immigrants in exchange for tens of billions in border security and changes to legal immigration.

But it was panned by Democrats and some Republicans over concerns about cuts to legal immigration and limits on family-based immigration.

A group of centrists is eyeing a narrow deal that would just include a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and border security.

But President TrumpDonald John TrumpCEO of American investment firm believed Michael Cohen could bring in GOP donors for deals: report NAACP slams NFL for gag rule on national anthem Pelosi: Republican meeting over informant will 'nix' possibility of bipartisan briefing MORE shot down a scaled-back bill from Sens. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsOvernight Finance: House sends Dodd-Frank rollbacks to Trump | What's in the bill | Trump says there is 'no deal' to help ZTE | Panel approves bill to toughen foreign investment reviews Congress, Trump eye new agency to invest in projects overseas On World Press Freedom Day, elected officials must commit to keeping press freedom nonpartisan MORE (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainFor .2 billion, taxpayers should get more than Congress’s trial balloons Overnight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-Ariz.) because it didn't include funding for a border wall.

Any proposal will need 60 votes, meaning the support of both Democrats and Republicans, to pass the Senate.

McConnell's announcement comes after he said on Tuesday that he didn't have a "secret plan" for the upcoming immigration debate.

“I’m going to structure in such a way that’s fair to everyone. ... Whoever gets to 60 wins,” he said during a press conference.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote Schumer: Trump should take Kim Jong Un off 'trip coin' Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Wednesday that Ryan should "do what Senator McConnell has agreed to do, allow a fair and open process to debate a dreamers bill on the House floor." 

Updated at 1:40 p.m.