Bipartisan Senate group says they have immigration deal

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday said they have reached an immigration deal as lawmakers try to break through a gridlocked floor debate.

"It's going to be ready today. It's going to be ready today," Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineA lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup MORE (D-Va.) told reporters after a closed-door meeting.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAnti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid Arpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument MORE (R-Ariz.), who was also in the meeting, confirmed that they would be releasing an agreement on Wednesday, saying members were working on "tidying up the language."

But leaving the meeting in Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSusan Collins challenger hit with ethics complaints over reimbursements Overnight Health Care: Insurance lobby chief calls Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad' | Trump officials appeal drug price disclosure ruling | Study finds 1 in 7 people ration diabetes medicine due to cost Collins downplays 2020 threat: 'Confident' reelection would go well if she runs MORE's (R-Maine) office, most members were tight-lipped about the content of their deal. 

The White House has demanded that any immigration legislation include the "four pillars" agreed to during a January meeting: A fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, border security, and changes to family-based immigration and the State Department's Diversity Visa Lottery. 

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Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhite House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts GOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Cindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death MORE (R-S.C.) said the agreement would be a "two pillar" proposal dealing only with undocumented immigrants and border security.

Several other members of the working group — including Collins, Kaine and Flake — declined to discuss what was included, noting they were still working to finalize language.

"We're very optimistic about getting an agreement on a bill. Of course, it's never complete until everyone has a chance to see the language. ... [But] I believe our group has come together on an approach," Collins said.

Sen. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsThe Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief Overnight Defense: Esper sworn in as Pentagon chief | Confirmed in 90-8 vote | Takes helm as Trump juggles foreign policy challenges | Senators meet with woman accusing defense nominee of sexual assault MORE (R-S.D.) hedged slightly, saying the group is "getting closer." But asked when reporters could expect to see an agreement, added: "Today is the day." 

A narrow proposal could face an uphill battle in the Senate. And even if it passes that chamber, it has been declared dead on arrival by House conservatives. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE threw his support Wednesday behind a proposal from other GOP senators, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces White House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord MORE (Iowa), that largely aligns with the White House's immigration framework. 

“I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars — that includes opposing any short-term ‘Band-Aid’ approach,” Trump said in a statement.

The framework provides a path to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million immigrants brought to the country illegally as children in exchange for $25 billion on border security, tougher interior enforcement and new limits on legal immigration. 

Grassley questioned why Democrats would eat up the chamber's time with other proposals. 

"Aren't you at a point where here the Democrats have been pleading for months and months and months for justice. ... Why would they turn it down?" asked Grassley, who appeared visibly frustrated and at times yelled at reporters. 

When a reporter noted that there wasn't unanimous support for the plan, he added: "There's some Republicans that don't want to do anything on immigration." 

Grassley stressed that the framework would also be open for amendments if they can overcome an initial procedural hurdle. 

But the plan is widely viewed as unable to get the 60 votes needed to either be attached to a House-passed bill being used as a shell for the Senate debate or to defeat a final filibuster before the Senate legislation can be passed. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump awards Medal of Freedom to NBA legend Bob Cousy Overnight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west MORE (D-W.Va.) noted the bipartisan group's plan isn't exactly like Grassley's but said "it still covers most of the bases." 

"Everything I've seen in it I can support, but I know that it might be a bridge too far for some people on my side of the aisle," he added when asked about the president's framework. 

Democrats are urging Republican leadership to quickly bring up the Grassley proposal, in an effort to show that it can't pass so lawmakers that can move on to other proposals.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence MORE (R-Ky.) took a first step toward a vote on the measure by making several proposals "pending": the Grassley bill, a separate plan from Sens. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Biden faces scrutiny for his age from other Democrats Democrats press FBI for details on Kavanaugh investigation MORE and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death Anti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid McCain's family, McCain Institute to promote #ActsOfCivility in marking first anniversary of senator's death MORE (R-Ariz.), a proposal from Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight 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 MORE (R-Pa.) that would crack down on sanctuary cities and a placeholder for the Collins proposal.

The move would allow the Senate to eventually get votes, though nothing has been scheduled.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads What the gun safety debate says about Washington Trump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China MORE (R-Fla.) backed that approach after Wednesday's meeting. 

"I think the first thing that needs to happen is there needs to be a vote on the president's proposal," he said. 

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Tenn.) added that: "I think we should have a vote on the president's proposal. I think he's shown strong leadership. ... I think the sooner [the vote happens] the better." 

The bipartisan group of roughly 20 senators has been meeting in Collins's office for weeks to try to find an agreement on immigration.

As part of a deal to end a three-day government shutdown, McConnell agreed to turn to the immigration debate this week.

But the floor action stalemated on Tuesday when Democrats blocked McConnell's efforts to set up votes.

The Senate formally started the immigration debate on Wednesday after a round of partisan fighting Tuesday. But senators haven't yet agreed to schedule a vote on any immigration amendment.

McConnell wants to wrap up the debate this week. 

"The longer my colleagues across the aisle refuse to come to the table — the longer they’re unable to produce any legislation they actually support — the lower the odds that we can arrive at a legislative solution this week," he warned on Wednesday. 

Updated at 2:28 p.m.