This week: Senate turns toward immigration battle
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The much-anticipated Senate floor debate over immigration will commence this week on the heels of Friday's brief government shutdown.

Senators are expected to vote Monday at 5:30 p.m. on an initial immigration hurdle — agreeing to end debate on taking up a House-passed “shell” bill.

The Senate is turning its focus to the immigration debate, where both sides are under pressure from their base to draw a hard line, as part of a promise made by Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: VA nominee on the ropes | White House signals it will fight for pick | Trump talks Syria with Macron | McConnell tees up Pompeo vote Schumer to oppose Pompeo as secretary of State Trump's nominee for the VA is on the ropes MORE (R-Ky.) to end a three-day government shutdown in January.

But lawmakers have yet to find an agreement that can win over the 60 votes needed to clear the chamber. And there’s no guarantee the more conservative House or President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans hold on to Arizona House seat Dems win majority in New York Senate, but won't control it Mulvaney to bankers: Campaign donations will help limit consumer bureau's power MORE will back any plan ultimately passed by the Senate.

McConnell, who pledged to make the immigration process “fair to both sides," said last week that he didn’t have a “secret plan” to impact the ultimate outcome by tilting the debate in one direction.

"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 during a separate appearance on the Senate floor.

Senators are expected to offer their competing proposals as amendments to the House bill. How many will end up getting votes or how long the debate will last is unclear, though both GOP Sens. John CornynJohn CornynRand's reversal advances Pompeo Joe Scarborough predicts Trump won't run in 2020 Republicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller MORE (Texas) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLobbying world Former Florida congressmen mull bipartisan gubernatorial run: report Winners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator MORE (Fla.) signaled it could last weeks.

A spokesman for McConnell declined to comment Friday on how long the immigration bill will stay on floor, noting he couldn’t speculate with any certainty about a debate that hadn’t yet started.

Despite the looming floor fight, senators are still locking down what they will offer.

A group of GOP senators is expected to offer Trump’s framework as an amendment, though Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinPompeo faces pivotal vote To succeed in Syria, Democrats should not resist Trump policy Hannity, Kimmel, Farrow among Time's '100 Most Influential' MORE (D-Ill.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP anxiety grows over Trump’s Iran decision GOP senator: Trump's comment on Kim Jong Un 'surpasses understanding' Republican candidate favored in Arizona special House election MORE (R-Ariz.) have both predicted it won’t get 60 votes.

The proposal would grant 1.8 million immigrants brought into the country illegally as children a path to citizenship in exchange for tens of billions in border security and changes to legal immigration.

Democrats, and some Republicans, have panned the measure as being too restrictive. Conservatives, on the other hand, including Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingIrish Senate honors Iowa journalist for Pulitzer after Iowa Senate refuses Volkswagen has not cleaned up its act, time for Congress to step in Orbán declares victory in Hungary elections MORE (R-Iowa) and outlets such as Breitbart News, blasted the plan as “amnesty.”

Trump has emerged as a wild card in the months-long immigration fight.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCan Mueller be more honest than his colleagues? Throwing some cold water on all of the Korean summit optimism House Republicans push Mulvaney, Trump to rescind Gateway funds MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiGOP anxiety grows over Trump’s Iran decision Pelosi rejects litmus test on abortion The Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP MORE (D-Calif.) said last year that they had an agreement to focus any deal on a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and border security, only for the framework agreement to unravel.

Trump also told lawmakers during a televised White House meeting in January  that he would sign whatever they sent him. But two days later he blew a hole in the talks by shooting down a bipartisan “Gang of Six” bill and reportedly referring to several developing nations as “shithole” countries.

Flake said he thought the president wanted to help DACA recipients, but also responded to pressure from the party’s base.

“The president expressed that several months ago after the ‘Chuck and Nancy’ meeting ... [He] flatly said to us, ‘you know, I had a meeting with Chuck and Nancy but then the base went crazy,’ he said. ...So this is a tough issue,” Flake told reporters.

Flake is one of roughly 20 senators, led by GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWinter Olympians call for action on climate Trump’s CIA pick facing brutal confirmation fight Senate panel to examine Trump officials' election security efforts MORE (Maine), who have been negotiating for weeks to try to come up with an agreement.

Those talks have largely focused on finding a DACA fix paired with a border security package, though senators are debating how to give the administration the long-term funding it wants while still letting Congress have oversight of money.

“It’s just hard to construct a trigger. There’s a lot of different ideas, but I don’t think there’s anything close to a consensus,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said, asked about including the fail-safe for the border security provisions.

Congress has a matter of weeks to come up with a fix for DACA, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school, under the Trump administration’s original March 5 deadline.

A court ruling that requires the program to stay on the books while litigation plays out has thrown a curveball into that timeline, though lawmakers are pushing forward by noting the decision could be overturned.

But it’s far from clear that any bill that passes the Senate would get taken up in the House.

House Democrats were unsuccessful in securing a similar commitment from Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHenry Kissinger, Tim Cook among guests at White House state dinner Overnight Finance: Stocks fall hard | Trump sending delegation to China for trade talks | SEC fines Yahoo M over breach | Dodd-Frank rollback dominates banking conference To keep control of House, GOP must have McCarthy as next Speaker MORE (R-Wis.) to allow open-ended debate in the lower chamber on immigration to protect DACA recipents.

Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerTrump taps USTR's Gerrish as acting head of Export-Import Bank Pelosi needs big cushion to return as Speaker Senior Dem on leadership shake-up: ‘All of us have got to go’ if GOP holds House MORE (D-Md.) and Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) are suggesting GOP leaders allow a rarely used procedure, known as “queen of the hill,” that allows votes on multiple competing proposals. Whichever gets the most votes is considered as adopted.

But Ryan has, so far, rebuffed their overtures.

He is saying only that he’s “committed” to making sure the DACA issue is resolved, but stopped short of saying he’d allow a vote on any bipartisan proposal even if it doesn’t have Trump’s support.

“My commitment to working together on an immigration measure that we can make law is a sincere commitment. We will solve this DACA problem,” Ryan said.

That’s why most Democrats voted against the bipartisan two-year budget deal last week that also keeps the government funded through March 23.

With both chambers far apart on a potential agreement, some senators are also working on a temporary fix, or a “Plan Z.”

Flake told reporters he has prepared the fail-safe in case the Senate's negotiations fall apart on the floor. His proposal would provide roughly three years of protected status for DACA recipients and border security.

Disability rights, financial services

The House is only expected to be in session for a slightly shortened work week before the President's Day recess.

One measure expected to be considered on the House floor this week would require the Justice Department to create a program for educating state and local governments and property owners how to better establish public accommodations for people with disabilities.

It would prevent people from filing lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act unless business owners are provided written notice and fail to offer a written description describing improvements.

But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that the legislation would “place the burden” on people with disabilities who are denied access to public spaces, rather than the businesses that aren’t complying with the law.

“Business owners can spend years out of compliance and face no penalty even after they receive notice, so long as the owners claim “substantial progress,’” the ACLU said.

The House is also expected to consider legislation to ensure that the interest rate on certain loans remains the same even if it is transferred to a third party.