Greg Nash

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) on Tuesday objected to a proposed vote on a Republican bill to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, arguing they have little to do with the fate of young immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission.

Democrats have not yielded back procedural time on the Senate floor, stalling the beginning of the immigration debate this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to get the ball rolling by proposing a vote on an amendment proposed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) addressing sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to help federal officials with immigration enforcement. Schumer immediately objected to that move.

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“The proposal he just offered does not address the underlying issues of this debate, why we’re here. It doesn’t address ‘Dreamers’ nor does it address border security,” Schumer argued.

That drew a swift rebuke from Republicans, who expressed irritation over the delaying tactic after Democrats had demanded for weeks an immigration debate on the Senate floor.

“The majority leader today tries to carry out that promise [to debate immigration] and get this bill moving and we have this objection. Very puzzling,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

“The leader has asked for unanimous consent to allow us to start debating these issues and the Democrats are refusing,” Grassley added. “Puzzling, as I say it is, because they have been the ones to demand to have this debate.”

Schumer, however, said the Senate should focus on bipartisan proposals — such as a measure backed by Sens. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would give a path to citizenship to certain immigrants who came to the country as children and begin spending billions of dollars to improve security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Democratic leader proposed side-by-side votes on the Coons-McCain plan and President Trump’s four-point proposal, which would give young immigrants known as Dreamers a path to citizenship, spend $25 billion on border security, reduce the weighting of family relationships in granting green cards and eliminate the diversity visa lottery program.

The president’s plan has been written into a bill supported by Grassley and several other GOP lawmakers, including Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), James Lankford (Okla.) and David Perdue (Ga.).

“To begin this debate as the Republican leader suggests would be getting off on the wrong foot, unrelated to DACA. Very partisan,” Schumer said of the proposal to vote on sanctuary cities. 

Tags Charles Schumer Charles Schumer Christopher Coons Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Immigration immigration debate James Lankford John McCain Mitch McConnell Pat Toomey sanctuary cities Thom Tillis Tom Cotton US Senate
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