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Senate group preparing to pitch immigration ideas

Senate group preparing to pitch immigration ideas
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A bipartisan group of senators is aiming to pitch ideas for an immigration bill to leadership before lawmakers leave town for the week on Wednesday.

"That's our hope," said Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (R-Maine) on Tuesday when if they would funnel ideas to Sens. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ MORE (R-Texas) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (D-Ill.), who are charged with drafting the Senate bill, before the GOP retreat.

Durbin noted he and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE (D-N.Y.) are meeting on Tuesday with Democratic members of the group to get an update on the negotiations.

A spokeswoman for Collins didn't immediately respond to an inquiry about whether Republican members of the group would have a similar meeting with Cornyn or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.). 

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The group isn't drafting actual legislation, but has held near-daily meetings to try to come to a consensus on what a base bill that would win bipartisan support might look like.

"We are going to funnel some suggestions to them on what the base bill that is brought to the Senate floor might be. We're not trying to write a bill. ... We're trying to come up with certain principles of agreement, or concepts, that could serve as a basis for further debate on the Senate floor," Collins told reporters on Monday night.

Collins said the group, collectively known as the Common Sense Coalition, is meeting again on Tuesday.

The forthcoming pitch to leadership comes as the Senate is expected to turn to an immigration debate as soon as next week.

There are no signs, however, that lawmakers are close to an agreement that could avert a floor fight and guarantee that the chamber will be able to pass legislation.

Durbin and Cornyn met with their House counterparts — Reps. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump talk riles advocates on both sides of gas tax House GOP pushes hard-line immigration plan as Senate deals fail Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE (R-Calif.) and Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Calls mount from Dems to give platform to Trump accusers  Citing deficits, House GOP to take aim at entitlements MORE (D-Md.) — on Monday. But Democrats say those talks have produced no measurable movement toward an agreement.

Asked on Tuesday what role that group, known as the No. 2s, play in the immigration negotiations, Durbin said: "That's a very legitimate question."

"So far, it has not produced an agreement on any aspect of this. ... We're running out of time. We have to roll up our sleeves and get some kind of agreement if this group is going to have any viability," he said.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE announced last year that he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school here.

Trump and a bipartisan group of lawmakers agreed during a televised meeting earlier this month that a legislative fix for DACA would also include border security, changes to family-based immigration and the State Department's diversity visa lottery.

But several members of Collins's bipartisan group are floating the possibility of at least starting the Senate's debate with a narrower plan that would pair legal protections for DACA recipients with border security.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Drama surrounding Shulkin — what is the future of VA health care? Blackburn pushes back on potential Corker bid: 'I'm going to win' MORE (R-Tenn.) said on Monday night that the narrower proposal could be the Senate's base bill, calling it the "lowest common denominator."

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence 'give me hope' Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker's aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were 'actors' MORE (R-Fla.) added that he believed that those issues should be the starting point.

"It's like a Rubik's Cube. Every time you line up the red side of the Rubik's Cube, the blue side is off balance," he said.

That plan would leave out key priorities for both sides. It wouldn't include a path to citizenship, pressed for by Democrats, or changes to family-based immigration that conservatives are demanding.

But that idea has run into opposition from leadership on both sides and the White House, which pitched its own immigration proposal late last week.

"No, we really think we've narrowed it down, we really do," White House legislative director Marc Short said on Monday, after the No. 2s meeting.