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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 McConnellWhat would MLK say about Trump and the Republican Party? Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (R-Ky.) tried to set up a vote at 8 p.m. on a proposal from Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel 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 CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Security concerns mount ahead of Biden inauguration Trump impeachment collides with Biden's agenda MORE (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhat to watch for in Biden Defense pick's confirmation hearing The best way to handle veterans, active-duty military that participated in Capitol riot Cindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' 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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But Dick DurbinDick DurbinOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Durbin says he won't whip votes for Trump's second impeachment trial MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat who has been heavily involved with the talks, objected to McConnell's request. He argued that bipartisan talks are ongoing and Toomey's amendment doesn't directly relate to the DACA program.
 
"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 SchumerChuck SchumerCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Graham pushes Schumer for vote to dismiss impeachment article Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs 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 GrassleyChuck Grassley3 ways Biden will reshape regulatory policy Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP Impeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 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.