Senate group preparing to pitch immigration ideas

Senate group preparing to pitch immigration ideas
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A bipartisan group of senators is aiming to pitch ideas for an immigration bill to leadership before lawmakers leave town for the week on Wednesday.

"That's our hope," said Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell proposes compressed schedule for impeachment trial GOP can beat Democrats after impeachment — but it needs to do this one thing Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump MORE (R-Maine) on Tuesday when if they would funnel ideas to Sens. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Cornyn disputes GAO report on withholding of Ukraine aid: It's 'certainly not a crime' MORE (R-Texas) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Durbin says he hopes enough GOP senators know that 'history will find you' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-Ill.), who are charged with drafting the Senate bill, before the GOP retreat.

Durbin noted he and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump administration installs plaque marking finish of 100 miles of border wall Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications MORE (D-N.Y.) are meeting on Tuesday with Democratic members of the group to get an update on the negotiations.

A spokeswoman for Collins didn't immediately respond to an inquiry about whether Republican members of the group would have a similar meeting with Cornyn or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' Romney pledges 'open mind' ahead of impeachment trial McConnell proposes compressed schedule for impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.). 

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The group isn't drafting actual legislation, but has held near-daily meetings to try to come to a consensus on what a base bill that would win bipartisan support might look like.

"We are going to funnel some suggestions to them on what the base bill that is brought to the Senate floor might be. We're not trying to write a bill. ... We're trying to come up with certain principles of agreement, or concepts, that could serve as a basis for further debate on the Senate floor," Collins told reporters on Monday night.

Collins said the group, collectively known as the Common Sense Coalition, is meeting again on Tuesday.

The forthcoming pitch to leadership comes as the Senate is expected to turn to an immigration debate as soon as next week.

There are no signs, however, that lawmakers are close to an agreement that could avert a floor fight and guarantee that the chamber will be able to pass legislation.

Durbin and Cornyn met with their House counterparts — Reps. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCalifornia sues Trump administration over fracking Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (R-Calif.) and Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse revives agenda after impeachment storm House poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate House to vote on Iran war powers bills sought by progressives MORE (D-Md.) — on Monday. But Democrats say those talks have produced no measurable movement toward an agreement.

Asked on Tuesday what role that group, known as the No. 2s, play in the immigration negotiations, Durbin said: "That's a very legitimate question."

"So far, it has not produced an agreement on any aspect of this. ... We're running out of time. We have to roll up our sleeves and get some kind of agreement if this group is going to have any viability," he said.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' MORE announced last year that he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school here.

Trump and a bipartisan group of lawmakers agreed during a televised meeting earlier this month that a legislative fix for DACA would also include border security, changes to family-based immigration and the State Department's diversity visa lottery.

But several members of Collins's bipartisan group are floating the possibility of at least starting the Senate's debate with a narrower plan that would pair legal protections for DACA recipients with border security.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Tenn.) said on Monday night that the narrower proposal could be the Senate's base bill, calling it the "lowest common denominator."

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioApple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech Surging Sanders draws fresh scrutiny ahead of debate MORE (R-Fla.) added that he believed that those issues should be the starting point.

"It's like a Rubik's Cube. Every time you line up the red side of the Rubik's Cube, the blue side is off balance," he said.

That plan would leave out key priorities for both sides. It wouldn't include a path to citizenship, pressed for by Democrats, or changes to family-based immigration that conservatives are demanding.

But that idea has run into opposition from leadership on both sides and the White House, which pitched its own immigration proposal late last week.

"No, we really think we've narrowed it down, we really do," White House legislative director Marc Short said on Monday, after the No. 2s meeting.