Family separation bills blocked on Senate floor
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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 TillisSenate hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign 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.

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"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 HironoSenate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Senate tries to shake off graveyard status Lawmakers brace for bitter fight over Biden tax plan 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 TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report 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 DurbinAmerica's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel On The Money: Incomes, consumer spending soared in March | Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package | Biden cancels some border wall construction 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 FeinsteinSenate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Lawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' Senate Democrats call on Biden to restore oversight of semiautomatic and sniper rifle exports 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 CruzCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls 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.