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 TrumpRand's reversal advances Pompeo New allegations could threaten Trump VA pick: reports President Trump puts on the pageantry for Macron’s visit 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 HarrisKamala Harris will no longer accept corporate PAC money Sen. Harris: I look forward to the day we need a nursery off the side of the cloakroom Dem senators unveil expanded public option for health insurance MORE (Calif.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDem senators unveil expanded public option for health insurance Senators introduced revised version of election cyber bill Senate Intel releases summary of election security report MORE (N.M.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDem senators demand Trump explain ties to Koch brothers Dem senators unveil expanded public option for health insurance Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses 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 CollinsOvernight Energy: Dems raise new questions about Pruitt's security | EPA rules burning wood is carbon neutral | Fourth GOP lawmaker calls for Pruitt's ouster | Court blocks delay to car efficiency fines How much does the FDA really do to promote public health? Trump aide: Mueller probe 'has gone well beyond' initial scope MORE (Maine), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeWinners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator Manchin, Donnelly back Pompeo Juan Williams: GOP support for Trump begins to crack MORE (Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Cybersecurity: Senators eye path forward on election security bill | Facebook isn't winning over privacy advocates | New hacks target health care Paul backs Pompeo, clearing path for confirmation Can Silicon Valley expect European-style regulation here at home? 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 CoonsOvernight Defense: Pompeo clears Senate panel, on track for confirmation | Retired officers oppose Haspel for CIA director | Iran, Syria on agenda for Macron visit Pompeo headed for confirmation after surprise panel vote Pompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel MORE (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainManchin, Donnelly back Pompeo This week: Senate barrels toward showdown over Pompeo Romney forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination 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 KingRand's reversal advances Pompeo Pompeo headed for confirmation after surprise panel vote Donnelly becomes third Dem to support Pompeo 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 RyanWatchdog group sues for donor list from Ryan-aligned nonprofit Terminating Budget Committees not as absurd as it sounds The writing is on the wall for bump stocks and Congress should finalize it 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 CorkerRand's reversal advances Pompeo Overnight Defense: Pompeo clears Senate panel, on track for confirmation | Retired officers oppose Haspel for CIA director | Iran, Syria on agenda for Macron visit Pompeo headed for confirmation after surprise panel vote 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 WarrenKamala Harris will no longer accept corporate PAC money Pompeo faces pivotal vote Dem senators demand Trump explain ties to Koch brothers MORE (Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand's jobs plan another federal program we don't need Kamala Harris will no longer accept corporate PAC money Schumer to introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana MORE (N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Cybersecurity: Senators eye path forward on election security bill | Facebook isn't winning over privacy advocates | New hacks target health care Kamala Harris will no longer accept corporate PAC money Pompeo faces pivotal vote 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) SandersOvernight Finance: Treasury mulls sanctions relief for Russian aluminum firm | Trump floats tying NAFTA talks to border security | 14 states hit record-low unemployment Kamala Harris will no longer accept corporate PAC money Judd Gregg: Who wins with Paul Ryan's departure? 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.