GOP senator: 'We were there' on immigration before talks got derailed

GOP senator: 'We were there' on immigration before talks got derailed
© Greg Nash
 
Collins said during a Senate Appropriations hearing that an immigration deal fell apart after the Department of Homeland Security issued a "misleading" memo and President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE threatened to veto the bill.
 
“We were there," said Collins, who pushed to secure support for legislation earlier this year. "At one point I could count the 60 votes.”
 
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The Senate voted on four separate proposals in February, after Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Sen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ky.) promised to bring immigration bills to the floor to end a short-lived government shutdown led by Democrats. But all four proposals fell short of the 60 votes necessary to advance.
 
Lawmakers voted on a flurry of immigration measures after Trump canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September.
 
Trump gave Congress until March to find a legislative replacement for DACA, but neither chamber has passed a bill and the House has yet to vote on any proposal. 
 
Several court rulings have kept the Obama-era program in place as lawmakers have weighed efforts to enshrine the protections in law.
 
Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller Watergate's John Dean: White House counsel is 'doing right' by cooperating with Mueller MORE told Collins during the Senate panel hearing Wednesday that it's "unfortunate" an immigration bill hasn't come together, but added that a deal on DACA is still possible.
 
“Look, I’ll be frank. My view is a plan that would end the illegality, along with some relief for the DACA young people, is possible. It can be done,” said Sessions, who has maintained a hard-line position on illegal immigration.
 
Of the four bills that the Senate voted on earlier this year, a centrist, bipartisan measure got the most votes (54-45), but it failed to overcome the chamber's 60-vote threshold.
 
Collins hosted bipartisan talks that produced that proposal, which Trump threatened to veto because it did not cover all four "pillars" of the White House immigration proposal.
 
Still, the centrist approach outperformed all other proposals. Trump's proposal received the fewest votes, with 14 GOP senators and all but three Democrats opposing it.