McConnell: GOP immigration plan ‘best chance’ at passing bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is throwing his support behind a GOP proposal that lines up with President Trump’s immigration framework, as the chamber turns to a battle over the controversial issue.
“I support the president’s proposal and my colleagues’ legislation to implement it. The Secure and Succeed Act is fair, address both sides’ most pressing concerns, conforming to the conditions the president has put forward,” McConnell said on Monday.
He added that the proposal is a “fair compromise” and “the best chance” at passing a bill that can get signed into law.
A group of GOP senators — including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), McConnell’s top deputy — are expected to introduce legislation on Monday that mirrors Trump’s framework.
That includes a path to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million immigrants brought into the country illegally as children in exchange for $25 billion in border security and changes to legal immigration.
But the plan is unlikely to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate with Democrats largely opposed to the measure and a small band of Republicans wary of the cuts to legal immigration.
The Senate is turning to a potentially weeks-long fight over immigration on Monday, with lawmakers expected to take up an unrelated House-passed bill being used as the vehicle for the chamber’s floor fight.
McConnell has pledged that the debate will be “fair” to both sides. He is using a nonimmigration bill as the Senate’s starting point.
“Now is the time to back up the talk with the hard work of finding a workable solution. That means finding an agreement that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and which the president will sign. Not just making a point. … The time for political posturing is behind us,” he said Monday.
But how the Senate’s debate ends is anybody’s guess as lawmakers continue to hunt for a plan that can get 60 votes.
As a fail-safe, multiple senators are working on a back-up plan that would pair a temporary extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with border security.
Trump kicked the immigration fight to Congress last year with his decision to end the DACA program, which allows certain immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school without fear of deportation.
Though a court decision has thrown a hurdle in the timeline, the administration’s decision originally gave lawmakers until March 5 to find a deal or risk the deportation of roughly 700,000 immigrants.