Senate rejects centrist immigration bill after Trump veto threat

The Senate on Thursday rejected immigration legislation crafted by centrists in both parties after President TrumpDonald John TrumpBrennan fires new shot at Trump: ‘He’s drunk on power’ Trump aides discussed using security clearance revocations to distract from negative stories: report Trump tried to dissuade Melania from 'Be Best' anti-bullying campaign: report MORE threatened to veto the bill if it made it to his desk.

In a 54-45 vote, the Senate failed to advance the legislation from eight Republican, seven Democratic and one Independent senators. It needed 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. 

ADVERTISEMENT

A few Democrats, including Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Bernie Sanders socialism moves to Democratic mainstream Overnight Health Care: Arkansas Medicaid work rules could cost thousands coverage | Record number of overdose deaths in 2017 | Dems demand immediate reunification of separated children MORE (Calif.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichThe Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states Gary Johnson launches New Mexico Senate bid Hillicon Valley: 'QAnon' conspiracy theory jumps to primetime | Senate Intel broadens look into social media manipulation | Senate rejects push for more election security funds | Reddit reveals hack MORE (N.M.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallCourt orders Trump EPA to ban controversial pesticide Top Dems: Trump tweet telling Sessions to end Mueller probe was obstruction of justice Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press MORE (N.M.), withheld their votes until it was clear the measure could not get to 60, and then voted against it.

Udall and Heinrich released a statement explaining the bill would have provided funding for Trump's border wall.

The centrist deal, backed by Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhite House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Overnight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M MORE (Maine), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeVoters will punish Congress for ignoring duty on war and peace GOP Senate candidate truncates Trump tweet in campaign mailer GOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs MORE (Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Graham: Flynn should lose security clearance Press needs to restore its credibility on FBI and Justice Department MORE (S.C.) and other Republicans, represented perhaps the best chance to advance legislation in the Senate, but was opposed by Trump and his allies in part because it did not cover all four immigration “pillars” he had demanded.

Two other amendments were rejected before the vote. The first, a bipartisan proposal from Sens. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsWhite House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding Graham: Flynn should lose security clearance On The Money: Senators propose 'crushing' Russia sanctions | Trump calls for food stamp work requirements in farm bill | China tells US to 'chill' on trade | Apple hits trillion in value MORE (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Rand Paul’s Russia visit displays advancement of peace through diplomacy MORE (R-Ariz.), fell in a 52-47 vote. The second measure, which would have cracked down on cities that don't comply with federal immigration laws, also fell in a 55-44 vote.

The Senate will now vote on a measure mirroring Trump's proposed immigration deal, but it is also expected to fail. That will leave Congress with an uncertain path on immigration ahead of a March 5 deadline set by the president.

The centrist bill would have allowed about 1.8 million immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to remain, providing them an eventual pathway to citizenship. It also included $25 billion in border security and would have prevented the parents of “Dreamers” from being sponsored for citizenship.

“This is the only bill that has a chance to get through the United States Senate,” Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Energy: Judge revives clean water rule | Keystone XL pipeline to get new environmental review | Nominee won't say if he backs funding agency Trump nominee won't say if he supports funding agency he was selected to run Trump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan MORE (I-Maine) said during a press conference ahead of the vote.

Trump and conservatives criticized the bill for what it lacked — broad changes to family-based or “chain” immigration and the elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery program, two demands from the president.

It’s not clear whether the bill would have moved in the House, though its passage by the Senate would have increased pressure on Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNew Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders House Dem: Party's aging leaders is 'a problem' Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Wis.).

The White House in warning the president would veto it said the bill “would undermine the safety and security of American families and impede economic growth for American workers” and result in “a flood of new illegal immigration in the coming months.”

The Department of Homeland Security separately said the proposal “ignores the lessons of 9/11” and “destroys” the ability of the department to remove undocumented immigrants from the country.

Graham fired back that the statement was “poisonous” and the department should say “thank you” whenever they get an offer that includes money for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

In an early sign that the bill would fall short, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances White House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Tenn.), who supported the 2013 comprehensive immigration bill, announced on Thursday that he would oppose the bipartisan amendment and back GOP alternative also supported by Trump.

Corker’s decision comes amid speculation that he could change his mind on retiring and run for reelection.

Trump announced last year he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally to work and go to school.

Under that decision Congress had until March 5 to pass a legislative fix. That decision has been thrown into limbo by a pair of court decisions.

Harris's last-second vote put her on the opposite side of the tally from several other Democratic senators seen as 2020 hopefuls, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care: Senate takes up massive HHS spending bill next week | Companies see no sign of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump claims | Manchin hits opponent on ObamaCare lawsuit Elizabeth Warren and the new communism Companies report no signs of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump pledge MORE (Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandBernie Sanders socialism moves to Democratic mainstream Trump, Obamas and Clintons among leaders mourning Aretha Franklin Gillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' MORE (N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Bernie Sanders socialism moves to Democratic mainstream Democrats embracing socialism is dangerous for America MORE (N.J.).  

Harris said after the vote that she "could not in good conscience" support the centrist group's proposal.  

“I recognize that my colleagues faced the impossible challenge of crafting a bill that could meet the White House’s unreasonable and ever-shifting demands. But regrettably this bill is simply not the answer," she said. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersRealClearPolitics editor: Moderate Democrats are losing even when they win Sanders tests his brand in Florida Ocasio-Cortez slammed for banning press from public event MORE (I-Vt.), another potential 2020 hopeful, defended his vote in support of the proposal, noting it is "clearly ... not the bill I would have written." 

"What we should be doing is passing a clean DREAM Act with a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and their parents. We also need to move forward and pass comprehensive immigration reform that will allow people to come out of the shadows and will unite families – not divide them," he said.