Dems block McConnell from setting up immigration votes

Dems block McConnell from setting up immigration votes
© Greg Nash
Democrats, for a second time on Tuesday, blocked Republicans from holding initial votes on immigration plans.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Overnight Defense: Washington reeling from Trump, Putin press conference Feehery: The long game MORE (R-Ky.) tried to set up a vote at 8 p.m. on a proposal from Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.) that targets federal grants for cities that don't comply with immigration law. He also wanted to vote on a separate plan from Sens. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin Sunday shows preview: Washington braces for Trump's Supreme Court pick America stands to lose as China places bets on developing world MORE (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit NY Daily News cover following Helsinki summit shows Trump shooting Uncle Sam MORE (R-Ariz.) that links a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a border security plan. 
 
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But Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Kavanaugh paper chase heats up MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat who has been heavily involved with the talks, objected to McConnell's request. He argued that bipartisan talks are ongoing and Toomey's amendment doesn't directly relate to the DACA program.
 
"There have been meetings that have been going on all day on a bipartisan basis to try to resolve the issue before us. ... I believe progress is being made. I hope that we can continue along those lines," he said.
 
The back-and-forth came after Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Red-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-N.Y.) blocked a request by the GOP leader earlier Tuesday to set up a vote on Toomey's amendment and a separate, unspecified Democratic amendment. 
 
McConnell and other GOP senators hammered Democrats throughout Tuesday for slow-walking the immigration debate after demanding that it be brought to the Senate floor as part of the deal to end a three-day government shutdown in January.
 
"Dems just objected AGAIN! When are the Dems going to carry out what they’ve been promising the DACA kids for several months? Let’s move fwd or level w us that you don’t want to help. my bill could solve issues for DACA kids + strengthens border security," GOP Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Kavanaugh paper chase heats up MORE (Iowa) tweeted after the floor scuffle.
 
Senators had predicted that they would have a wide-ranging free-for-all of a debate this week as they hunt for a plan that can get 60 votes, the amount needed to break a filibuster. Instead, the rhetoric took an increasingly partisan turn on Tuesday with both sides arguing the other needed to compromise to move the chamber forward.
 
As a result of the standstill, the Senate is expected to vote to formally begin debate on Wednesday morning.
 
GOP senators said McConnell collected signatures for cloture petitions during a closed-door caucus lunch earlier Tuesday as he looks for a way to break the current logjam.
 
The GOP leader wants to wrap up debate on the immigration bill by the end of the week.
 
“We have other things to do,” he told reporters, when asked if he would let the debate extend beyond this week.
 
The Senate is currently scheduled to be on a weeklong recess next week. Resuming the debate once they return could push a final immigration vote up against the initial March 5 deadline to find a DACA fix.