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 TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism 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. 

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A few Democrats, including Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Rasmussen poll: Nearly three-quarters of Dems want 'fresh face' as nominee in 2020 Kamala Harris lands book deal MORE (Calif.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichCNN congressional correspondent talks about her early love of trolls and family Overnight Energy: DNC to reject fossil fuel donations | Regulators see no security risk in coal plant closures | Senate committee rejects Trump EPA, Interior budgets Energy commission sees no national security risk from coal plant closures MORE (N.M.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallEPA deputy says he's not interested in Pruitt’s job Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 Overnight Energy: Spending bill targets Pruitt | Ryan not paying 'close attention' to Pruitt controversies | Yellowstone park chief learned of dismissal through press release 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 CollinsSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (Maine), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Flake to Trump: 'Fake news' didn't side with Putin, you did MORE (Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Trump stuns the world at Putin summit 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 CoonsLawmakers target link between wildlife poaching, terror groups Senate adds members to pro-NATO group Sunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin MORE (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPence, Pompeo urged Trump to clarify Russia remarks: report GOP lawmaker renews call for Trump to release tax returns after Putin summit House conservatives criticize media, not Trump, for Putin furor 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 KingLawmakers say Trump tariffs are threatening local newspapers Senate adds members to pro-NATO group Hillicon Valley: Hacker tried to sell military docs on dark web | Facebook fined over Cambridge Analytica | US closer to lifting ZTE ban | Trump, Obama lose followers in Twitter purge | DOJ weighs appeal on AT&T merger 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 RyanSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Kelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Lobbying world 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 CorkerSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Trump seeks to quell Russia furor 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 WarrenSenate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Dems call for hearings on Trump’s CFPB nominee to be put on hold Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women MORE (Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women ‘Abolish ICE’ is going to hurt Democrats in the midterms 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser MORE (N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Senate adds members to pro-NATO group Booker: Trump's national security officials face 'serious' choice after Putin summit 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) SandersMellman: (Mis)interpreting elections Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Rasmussen poll: Nearly three-quarters of Dems want 'fresh face' as nominee in 2020 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.