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 CollinsSusan Collins in statistical tie with Democratic challenger: poll Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (R-Maine) on Tuesday when if they would funnel ideas to Sens. John CornynJohn CornynTrump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan warnings Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Booker, Cornyn introduce bill to fund school nutrition programs MORE (R-Texas) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Trump commutes sentence of ex-Illinois Gov. Blagojevich in rash of clemency orders The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in 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 SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' 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 McConnellKentucky state official says foreign adversaries 'routinely' scan election systems Don't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Whistleblower retaliation: Stop confusing unlawful attacks with politics 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 McCarthyDon't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Barr has considered resigning over Trump tweets about DOJ: reports Overnight Energy: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative MORE (R-Calif.) and Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi's staff huddles with aides in both parties on 'surprise' medical billing House panel approves bill to grant DC statehood Democrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' 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 TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants 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 CorkerMcConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump's trial RNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight 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 RubioCheese, wine importers reeling from Trump trade fight Peace Corps' sudden decision to leave China stirs blowback Lawmakers raise concerns over Russia's growing influence in Venezuela 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.