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GOP senators introduce Trump immigration framework

GOP senators introduce Trump immigration framework
© Greg Nash

A group of GOP senators are pushing forward with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE's immigration proposal as the Senate turns to a days-long floor fight.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks Trump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight Dems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October MORE (R-Iowa) on Monday led other senators in formally introducing the plan, which aligns with the White House's framework.

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"The senators sponsoring this amendment have attempted to develop a simple, common-sense framework that can address everyone's concerns while also providing necessary and critical changes to our nation's immigration law," Grassley said from the Senate floor.

He added that the proposal is a "fair plan that closely mirrors the president's framework" and "the only plan that the president supports."

Similar to the White House's framework, the GOP proposal would provide a path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants brought into the country illegally as children in exchange for $25 billion in border security.

It would also place new limits on family-based immigration, a key point for conservatives but considered a non-starter for many Democrats.

And it would toughen interior enforcement, including implementing E-Verify, strengthening penalties for immigrants who re-enter the country illegally after being deported and cracking down on visa overstays.

The proposal got a boost on Monday, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellEx-lawmaker urges Americans to publicly confront officials Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Democrats slide in battle for Senate MORE (R-Ky.) throwing his support behind the measure, saying it represented the "best chance" for Congress to pass something that will be signed into law.

"I support the president's proposal and my colleagues' legislation to implement it. The Secure and Succeed Act is fair, addresses both sides' most pressing concerns, conforming to the conditions the president has put forward," he said.

But the proposal is expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to be attached to the underlying House vehicle being used for the Senate's debate, much less be passed out of the chamber.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday countered that the Senate's bill should be narrowly focused.

"This is the moment for a narrow bill and every ounce of our energy is going into finding one that can pass," he said.

He added that "the only enemy here is overreach."

The Senate is turning to the House-passed bill on Monday night, with senators predicting that the chamber's floor fight could drag on for weeks.

Any proposal would need 60 votes to pass, meaning it will need the support of both Democrats and Republicans.

No Democrat has backed Trump's framework. And Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinLawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi's death Durbin calls for expulsion of Saudi ambassador in response to Khashoggi's death Durbin to Trump: ‘We’re the mob? Give me a break’ MORE (D-Ill.) said on Tuesday that he had yet to see a Republican plan that could win over at least nine or 10 Democrats.

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonFlake: Congress should not continue Kavanaugh investigations GOP senator suspects Schumer of being behind release of Ford letter Susan Collins becomes top 2020 target for Dems MORE (R-Ark.), a close ally of Trump's who has been outspoken on the issue, dismissed Schumer and Durbin, saying they "misjudged their own caucus' wishes on this" during the January shutdown fight.

"Ultimately we don't have to have the blessing of Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' MORE and Dick Durbin to pass a bill," he said.

Schumer and Durbin are at the center of the Democratic caucus's strategy. Durbin and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia O'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke debate showdown MORE (R-Texas) were part of a leadership group initially tasked with coming up with an agreement.

Cotton added that "the president's framework isn't an opening bid. ...It is a best and final offer." 

But senators have been clear they are working on their own proposals. Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Watch live: Trump speaks at Arizona rally Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi disappearance MORE (R-Ariz.) has crafted two bills—one that would be a temporary extension and a second broader proposal that touches on the "four pillars."

A group of roughly 20 senators led by GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (Maine) are also continuing discussions over draft language about one, or more, measures they could back as a group. 

Trump kicked the immigration fight to Congress last year when he ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school here.

Updated: 7:03 p.m.