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GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation

GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation
© Greg Nash

A group of GOP senators is working to translate President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE's immigration framework into legislation as the chamber barrels toward a floor fight with no deal in sight.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation MORE (R-Texas) said Republican senators — led by Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law MORE (Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee — are working to write a bill based on the White House's proposal.

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"That's what the discussion is," Cornyn told The Hill after a meeting with Grassley and other GOP senators, including Sens. David Perdue (Ga.) and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation Fractured GOP struggles with immigration strategy MORE (Okla.), when asked if they were drafting legislation.

Cornyn didn't specifically rule out changes to the framework as the senators create the legislation, but said they aren't going to "negotiate against ourselves."

Spokespeople for Grassley didn't respond to a request for comment.

It's unclear if senators will formally introduce the legislation as a stand-alone measure and offer it during next week's immigration debate.

Lankford also confirmed that the group is drafting legislation based on Trump's outline. That framework would give citizenship to roughly 1.8 million immigrants brought into the country illegally as children in exchange for tens of billions of dollars in border wall and security funding, and sweeping changes to legal immigration.

But it's been widely panned by Democrats, as well as some GOP senators who are wary of making changes to legal immigration as part of a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Lankford appeared to signal that he had talked with Democrats as the immigration proposal is being drafted.

"I've had all kinds of conversations with Democrats saying, what changes would you need," he said.

But Lankford added that both sides are digging in, rather than trying to close the gap.

Cornyn, when asked about making changes to accommodate Democrats, also suggested there has been little headway.

"They seem to have this illusion that all they need to do is deal with about half of it," he said.

It's unclear which Democrats have been involved in discussions. Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Manchin: Senators should sign pledge not to campaign against each other  GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation MORE (D-W.Va.), who is part of a bipartisan group led by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation Longtime Clinton confidant blames Comey for 2016 loss MORE (R-Maine), said he hasn't talked to Cornyn or Grassley about turning the administration's framework into legislation.

Senators from both parties have floated a scaled-back bill that would link a fix for DACA to a border security package.

But the White House has shot down a proposal from Sens. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Hatch bill would dramatically increase H-1B visas Live coverage: Shutdown begins MORE (D-Del.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Overnight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach MORE (R-S.C.), which did not include funding for Trump's border wall.

The stalemate comes as the Senate could turn to a fight over immigration in a matter of days.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (R-Ky.) has promised he will start a debate if a larger deal isn't reached by Thursday. But he's given no indication about what bill he will use as the Senate's starting point.