Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear McConnell faces conservative backlash over Trump criticism MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said he will not use an immigration bill as the starting point for the Senate's debate on the issue.

"The bill I move to, which will not have underlying immigration text, will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

The GOP leader's comments are the first signal he's given about what legislation he will, or will not, use as the Senate's "base" bill, expected to be used as a vehicle for the immigration debate.

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He added on Wednesday that senators from both sides would be able to "alternate proposals for consideration and for votes."

"While I obviously cannot guarantee any outcome, let alone supermajority support, I can ensure the process is fair to all sides, and that is what I intend to do," he said.

McConnell is expected to tee up the Senate's base legislation this week once the chamber passes an agreement to fund the government and raise the budget caps. The move could pave the way for a free-wheeling debate on the Senate floor next week.

The announcement comes as senators are struggling to reach an agreement to prevent a heated debate on immigration, a political lightning rod for both parties' bases.

The No. 2's group — consisting of Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader McConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment Officials brace for second Trump impeachment trial MORE (D-Ill.) and John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats torn on impeachment trial timing McConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment Schumer: Trump should not be eligible to run for office again MORE (R-Texas) and Reps. Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Congressional leaders present Biden, Harris with flags flown during inauguration Biden urges Americans to join together in appeal for unity MORE (R-Calif.) and Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Congressional leaders present Biden, Harris with flags flown during inauguration LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing MORE (D-Md.) — have failed to get a broad agreement favored by the White House.

Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters earlier this week that the administration wanted its framework to be the Senate's starting point.

That proposal would have offered a path to citizenship to roughly 1.8 million immigrants in exchange for tens of billions in border security and changes to legal immigration.

But it was panned by Democrats and some Republicans over concerns about cuts to legal immigration and limits on family-based immigration.

A group of centrists is eyeing a narrow deal that would just include a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and border security.

But President TrumpDonald TrumpClinton, Bush, Obama reflect on peaceful transition of power on Biden's Inauguration Day Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Biden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds MORE shot down a scaled-back bill from Sens. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSenate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Romney calls for Senate to pass sanctions on Putin over Navalny poisoning Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster MORE (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader Trump is gone, a political pariah — but with influence MORE (R-Ariz.) because it didn't include funding for a border wall.

Any proposal will need 60 votes, meaning the support of both Democrats and Republicans, to pass the Senate.

McConnell's announcement comes after he said on Tuesday that he didn't have a "secret plan" for the upcoming immigration debate.

“I’m going to structure in such a way that’s fair to everyone. ... Whoever gets to 60 wins,” he said during a press conference.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader US Chamber of Commerce to Biden, Congress: Business community 'ready to help' Why pretend senators can 'do impartial justice'? MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Wednesday that Ryan should "do what Senator McConnell has agreed to do, allow a fair and open process to debate a dreamers bill on the House floor." 

Updated at 1:40 p.m.