Senators blocked two competing bills on Wednesday aimed at ending the separation of migrant families detained along the U.S-Mexico border, the latest sign that bipartisan talks in the chamber have failed to resolve the matter.
Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster Biden's court picks face fierce GOP opposition MORE (R-N.C.) tried to get consent to pass a Republican-only bill that would allow families to be detained together while they work their way through the U.S. court system. The measure also would increase the number of immigration judges.
"I think it's important that people understand that we're making progress, and it's pretty important to keep the issue and this discussion active in the U.S. Congress because Congress needs to act," Tillis said.
But Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats, poised for filibuster defeat, pick at old wounds Schumer prepares for Senate floor showdown with Manchin, Sinema Dems worry they'll be boxed out without changes to filibuster, voting rules MORE (D-Hawaii) objected to the bill, calling the legislation a "partisan political stunt" that would "distract the American people from the crisis created by Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE's zero tolerance policy."
"To continue to enable Donald Trump to pursue his anti-immigrant agenda makes us complicit in his cruelty and injustice," she added.
Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Democrats, poised for filibuster defeat, pick at old wounds Schumer prepares for Senate floor showdown with Manchin, Sinema MORE (D-Ill.), in turn, tried to pass a bill that he said would tie together legislation from Hirono, to give unaccompanied children legal representation, with legislation from Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinLawmakers in both parties to launch new push on Violence Against Women Act Domestic travel vaccine mandate back in spotlight Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid MORE (D-Calif.) that would broadly let families detained along the border stay together with the “presumption” that it is not in their best interest to be detained.
But Tillis, noting Durbin's measure had just been introduced, objected to the Democratic bill.
"We have not had an opportunity to study it," he said. "But without analyzing and [reconciling] it against a bill that I'm actively involved in that the senator mentioned, I object."
The stalemate on the Senate floor comes as talks between Feinstein, Durbin, Tillis and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSupreme Court appears divided over Cruz campaign finance challenge Democrats, poised for filibuster defeat, pick at old wounds O'Rourke says he raised record .2M since launching campaign for Texas governor MORE (R-Texas) have hit a roadblock amid deep divisions about how to handle families detained along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Negotiations appeared to get off track earlier this month over two issues crucial to any agreement: what to do about the Flores settlement, which places restrictions on how long children can be detained, and alternatives to detaining families together indefinitely.
Democrats argue that Republicans want to water down or get rid of the Flores settlement, potentially creating a scenario where children could be detained indefinitely with their parents.
Tillis on Wednesday said that's a "false" narrative, adding that Republicans were looking at potential detention of 40-60 days and hoping they could reduce it further.
"What we're trying to do is figure out a reasonable, fair way to keep families together, to have families prioritized so that they can go before a judge and determine whether or not they have a legitimate asylum claim and move as expeditiously as possible," he said.