Senate

GOP senators introduce Trump immigration framework

Greg Nash

A group of GOP senators are pushing forward with President Trump’s immigration proposal as the Senate turns to a days-long floor fight.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (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 McConnell (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 Schumer (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 Durbin (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 Cotton (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 Schumer 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 Cornyn (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 Flake (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 Collins (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. 

Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Grassley Chuck Schumer Dick Durbin Donald Trump Jeff Flake John Cornyn Mitch McConnell Susan Collins Tom Cotton
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