Senate moderates hunt for compromise on family separation bill
© Greg Nash

A group of Senate moderates huddled on Wednesday as they look for a compromise on legislation addressing the separation of immigrant families detained along the border. 

"We talked about whether or not it is possible to come forward with a bipartisan bill that would deal with the issue of family separations. ...It was a very productive and helpful discussion of the issues," Collins told reporters after the meeting ended. 
Collins previously hosted senators during the three-day government shutdown in January, where the group helped craft a deal that allowed the government to be reopened. Senators also met in  Collins's office to hash out a centrist immigration bill on the the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but couldn't ultimately win the 60 votes needed for passage.

Wednesday's meeting came after Trump signed an executive order that would require immigrant families detained along the border be kept together "where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources." 


Trump's "zero tolerance" policies, which resulted in the separation of immigrant families along the border, had sparked a days-long backlash from Republicans on Capitol Hill. 

But Republicans, as well as some Democrats, argue legislation is still needed and that Trump's order could be challenged in court. 
What a compromise bill would look like is unclear. Senators warned Wednesday that the meeting in Collins's office was preliminary. 
"I think this was an initial conversation just to understand the differences of position," Coons said. 
Legislation that senators have offered so far has broken down along party lines. 
GOP Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators at White House Senators confirm Erdoğan played 'propaganda' video in White House meeting MORE (Texas), whose bill has only picked up GOP support, and Democratic Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHarris introduces bill to prevent California wildfires Senate Democrats introduce Violence Against Women Act after bipartisan talks break down Harris shares video addressing staffers the night Trump was elected: 'This is some s---' MORE (Calif.), whose bill is supported by the entire Democratic caucus, presented their proposals during the meeting. 
"My goal is for them to work together and to produce bipartisan legislation. What I don't want to see happen is for there to be a Democratic bill that fails on the Senate floor. A Republican alternative that also falls and we end up with no legislation at all," Collins told reporters after the meeting. 
In addition to the legislation from Cruz and Feinstein, a group of GOP senators, led by Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' Trump rules out total rollback of Chinese tariffs MORE (R-N.C.), introduced legislation on Wednesday that sought to merge together ideas from across the caucus into one bill.
Tills told reporters early Wednesday evening that he is currently in talks with Democrats to try to find an agreement that could get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. 
Tillis estimated that he's spoken to eight Democrats and that his office is working to set up meetings and share the text of his legislation. 
"We're working right now trying to initiate a lot of discussions with members on the other side of the aisle," Tillis said. "The first person I spoke with was Senator Feinstein."