Durbin: Senators to release immigration bill Wednesday
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that a bipartisan group of senators will release their immigration and border security bill on Wednesday, despite pushback from President Trump.
“It will be available tomorrow and we’re prepared for a vote as quickly as possible,” Durbin told reporters on Tuesday.
He added that the group of six senators are urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to give them a “test vote” to show the level of support for the forthcoming legislation.
“And if it is successful, as I believe it will be, [I hope] that Sen. McConnell will include it as an amendment to must-pass legislation,” Durbin said.
Durbin didn’t specify what “must-pass legislation” he was referring to, but Congress has roughly four days to pass a short-term stopgap funding bill to prevent a government shutdown.
Democrats have remained tight-lipped about if they will support the funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, without an immigration deal.
Spokespeople for Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), two GOP members of the so-called Gang of Six, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the timing of the legislation or what a potential “test vote” could be.
In addition to Flake, Graham and Durbin, Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez (N.J.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) as well as GOP Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) have been negotiating the agreement.
Flake has signaled that they’ve picked up additional supporters, though a spokesman for Durbin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Senate group’s bill is expected to tie a pathway to citizenship to roughly $2.7 billion in border security.
It’s also expected to shuffle some of the diversity lottery visas toward Temporary Protected Status (TPS) countries and make changes to family-based immigration that would be limited to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and their family members.
But the group could face an uphill battle to get a floor vote. McConnell has said he will only bring up an immigration bill if the president has indicated that he’ll sign it.
Trump sparked a political firestorm after he reportedly referred to several developing nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting with Durbin, Graham and several conservative lawmakers last week.
The president has also blasted the bipartisan group’s bill, saying Durbin “blew” the chances of an agreement on the Obama-era DACA program which allows certain young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to work and go to school in the U.S.
“The Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security. … We need a merit based system of immigration, and we need it now! No more dangerous Lottery,” Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Conservative lawmakers have also criticized the legislation for not including tougher interior enforcement measures.
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