Dems block McConnell from setting up immigration votes

Dems block McConnell from setting up immigration votes
© Greg Nash
Democrats, for a second time on Tuesday, blocked Republicans from holding initial votes on immigration plans.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAs Democrats gear up to challenge Trump in 2020, the key political divide will be metropolitan versus rural McConnell: Criminal justice bill unlikely this year On The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report MORE (R-Ky.) tried to set up a vote at 8 p.m. on a proposal from Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.) that targets federal grants for cities that don't comply with immigration law. He also wanted to vote on a separate plan from Sens. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsHillicon Valley: Facebook reeling after NYT report | Dems want DOJ probe | HQ2 brings new scrutiny on Amazon | Judge upholds Russian troll farm indictments | Cyber moonshot panel unveils recommendations Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill Dems press Justice Department to probe Facebook over political attacks MORE (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain takes aim at Trump: We need a strong leader, 'not a negative Nancy' McCain would have said ‘enough’ to acrimony in midterms, says Cindy McCain Trump nominates Jim Gilmore for ambassador post MORE (R-Ariz.) that links a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a border security plan. 
 
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"There have been meetings that have been going on all day on a bipartisan basis to try to resolve the issue before us. ... I believe progress is being made. I hope that we can continue along those lines," he said.
 
The back-and-forth came after Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFacebook reeling after damning NYT report Schumer warns Trump to stay out of government funding negotiations Schumer predicts Nelson will 'continue being senator' if 'every vote counted' MORE (D-N.Y.) blocked a request by the GOP leader earlier Tuesday to set up a vote on Toomey's amendment and a separate, unspecified Democratic amendment. 
 
McConnell and other GOP senators hammered Democrats throughout Tuesday for slow-walking the immigration debate after demanding that it be brought to the Senate floor as part of the deal to end a three-day government shutdown in January.
 
"Dems just objected AGAIN! When are the Dems going to carry out what they’ve been promising the DACA kids for several months? Let’s move fwd or level w us that you don’t want to help. my bill could solve issues for DACA kids + strengthens border security," GOP Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel McConnell: Criminal justice bill unlikely this year On The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report MORE (Iowa) tweeted after the floor scuffle.
 
Senators had predicted that they would have a wide-ranging free-for-all of a debate this week as they hunt for a plan that can get 60 votes, the amount needed to break a filibuster. Instead, the rhetoric took an increasingly partisan turn on Tuesday with both sides arguing the other needed to compromise to move the chamber forward.
 
As a result of the standstill, the Senate is expected to vote to formally begin debate on Wednesday morning.
 
GOP senators said McConnell collected signatures for cloture petitions during a closed-door caucus lunch earlier Tuesday as he looks for a way to break the current logjam.
 
The GOP leader wants to wrap up debate on the immigration bill by the end of the week.
 
“We have other things to do,” he told reporters, when asked if he would let the debate extend beyond this week.
 
The Senate is currently scheduled to be on a weeklong recess next week. Resuming the debate once they return could push a final immigration vote up against the initial March 5 deadline to find a DACA fix.