Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE

Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE
© Greg Nash

A GOP Senate resolution supporting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — and knocking progressives' call to "abolish" it — was blocked by Democrats on Wednesday shortly after a similar measure was approved by the House. 

Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSanders: Public should be ‘very concerned’ about election security in 2018 Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE Republican bill aims to deter NATO members from using Russian pipeline MORE (R-Mont.) asked for unanimous consent to pass the resolution, introduced by Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), offering Senate support for ICE officials, members of the military and law enforcement.

"It is outrageous. It is irresponsible to call for abolishing one of our country's most critical security measures. Abolishing ICE would give terrorists, gang members, drug dealers and other criminals a field day," Daines said.

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But Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyBipartisanship alive and well, protecting critical infrastructure Overnight Defense: Senate sends 7B annual defense bill to Trump's desk | US sanctions Turkish officials over detained pastor | Korean War remains headed to Hawaii | Senators reassure allies on NATO support Dem strategist: It's 'far-left thinking' to call for Nielsen's resignation MORE (D-Ore.) objected and instead asked for consent to pass legislation from Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi Harris2020 hopefuls skeptical of criminal justice deal with Trump Kamala Harris prepares for moment in the spotlight Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies MORE (D-Calif.) that would "reunite families separated at or near ports of entry" as a result of President TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE’s “zero tolerance” prosecution of those who cross the southern border illegally.

Daines, in turn, objected to the request. 

"This moment hardly seems the time for the Senate to engage in debating rhetorical phrases or praise for the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency when that agency, better known as ICE, is deeply mired in the scandal of separating children from their parents," Merkley said. 

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems to challenge Kavanaugh for White House records 2020 hopefuls skeptical of criminal justice deal with Trump Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies MORE (D-Ill.) added that the GOP resolution would support ICE "in all its functions." 

"Well, I can just tell you, I don't join in that resolution. I specifically don't join in it when it comes to the president's zero tolerance policy," he said. 

The move to block the Senate GOP resolution came as House Republicans passed their own resolution supporting ICE. 

The House measure was approved in a 244-35 vote, with 18 Democrats voting to back ICE and 34 voting against the resolution. The majority of Democrats in the chamber voted “present” at the urging of party leadership.

Calls to eliminate ICE, which was formed in 2003, have rocketed into the national spotlight after the president's zero tolerance immigration policy resulted in the separation of immigrant families detained along the border. 

Trump signed an executive order allowing families to stay together, but some progressives have seized on the issue, with protesters publicly confronting high-profile administration officials and lawmakers, including Senate 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-K). 

Progressive House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made abolishing ICE part of her campaign platform in her shocking defeat of Rep. Joseph Crowley (D) in last month’s primary in New York. And some of the party’s potential 2020 presidential hopefuls, including Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand: 'Solely focused' on 2018, not potential 2020 White House bid Sunday shows preview: Trump stokes intel feud over clearances Boogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems MORE (N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBoogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems Overnight 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 MORE (Mass.), have rallied behind the effort to dismantle ICE.

But most Senate Democrats have stopped short of embracing calls to nix the agency. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTo make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters following Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory that he believed ICE should be reformed instead.

An Economist–YouGov poll conducted earlier this month found that 29 percent of U.S. adults support abolishing ICE, while 46 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of liberals said they would back that effort.