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GOP senators introduce Trump immigration framework

GOP senators introduce Trump immigration framework
© Greg Nash

A group of GOP senators are pushing forward with 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 proposal as the Senate turns to a days-long floor fight.

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 (R-Iowa) on Monday led other senators in formally introducing the plan, which aligns with the White House's framework.

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"The senators sponsoring this amendment have attempted to develop a simple, common-sense framework that can address everyone's concerns while also providing necessary and critical changes to our nation's immigration law," Grassley said from the Senate floor.

He added that the proposal is a "fair plan that closely mirrors the president's framework" and "the only plan that the president supports."

Similar to the White House's framework, the GOP proposal would provide a path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants brought into the country illegally as children in exchange for $25 billion in border security.

It would also place new limits on family-based immigration, a key point for conservatives but considered a non-starter for many Democrats.

And it would toughen interior enforcement, including implementing E-Verify, strengthening penalties for immigrants who re-enter the country illegally after being deported and cracking down on visa overstays.

The proposal got a boost on Monday, with 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.) throwing his support behind the measure, saying it represented the "best chance" for Congress to pass something that will be signed into law.

"I support the president's proposal and my colleagues' legislation to implement it. The Secure and Succeed Act is fair, addresses both sides' most pressing concerns, conforming to the conditions the president has put forward," he said.

But the proposal is expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to be attached to the underlying House vehicle being used for the Senate's debate, much less be passed out of the chamber.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP lawmaker: Dems not standing for Trump is 'un-American' Trump called for unity — he didn’t even last a week Overnight Defense: GOP plays hardball by attaching defense funding to CR | US reportedly drawing down in Iraq | Russia, US meet arms treaty deadline | Why the military wants 6B from Congress MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday countered that the Senate's bill should be narrowly focused.

"This is the moment for a narrow bill and every ounce of our energy is going into finding one that can pass," he said.

He added that "the only enemy here is overreach."

The Senate is turning to the House-passed bill on Monday night, with senators predicting that the chamber's floor fight could drag on for weeks.

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

No Democrat has backed Trump's framework. And Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Hoyer: DACA deal a long ways off MORE (D-Ill.) said on Tuesday that he had yet to see a Republican plan that could win over at least nine or 10 Democrats.

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonThis week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid immigration fight Ingraham: White House yanked immigration plan defense from show After shutdown surrender, why should progressives ever trust Chuck Schumer again? MORE (R-Ark.), a close ally of Trump's who has been outspoken on the issue, dismissed Schumer and Durbin, saying they "misjudged their own caucus' wishes on this" during the January shutdown fight.

"Ultimately we don't have to have the blessing of Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP lawmaker: Dems not standing for Trump is 'un-American' Trump called for unity — he didn’t even last a week Overnight Defense: GOP plays hardball by attaching defense funding to CR | US reportedly drawing down in Iraq | Russia, US meet arms treaty deadline | Why the military wants 6B from Congress MORE and Dick Durbin to pass a bill," he said.

Schumer and Durbin are at the center of the Democratic caucus's strategy. Durbin and 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) were part of a leadership group initially tasked with coming up with an agreement.

Cotton added that "the president's framework isn't an opening bid. ...It is a best and final offer." 

But senators have been clear they are working on their own proposals. Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Huckabee Sanders: Dems need to decide if they 'hate' Trump 'more than they love this country' Trump spokeswoman fires back at Flake: 'His numbers are in the tank' MORE (R-Ariz.) has crafted two bills—one that would be a temporary extension and a second broader proposal that touches on the "four pillars."

A group of roughly 20 senators led by GOP 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 (Maine) are also continuing discussions over draft language about one, or more, measures they could back as a group. 

Trump kicked the immigration fight to Congress last year when he ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school here.

Updated: 7:03 p.m.