Senate rejects centrist immigration bill after Trump veto threat

The Senate on Thursday rejected immigration legislation crafted by centrists in both parties after President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE threatened to veto the bill if it made it to his desk.

In a 54-45 vote, the Senate failed to advance the legislation from eight Republican, seven Democratic and one Independent senators. It needed 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. 

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A few Democrats, including Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule Democratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement MORE (Calif.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics This week: House to vote on Turkey sanctions bill Hillicon Valley: Facebook launches 'News Tab' | Senate passes bill to take on 'deepfakes' | Schumer outlines vision for electric cars MORE (N.M.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallBureau of Land Management staff face relocation or resignation as agency moves west Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Hillicon Valley: Twitter to refuse all political ads | Trump camp blasts 'very dumb' decision | Ocasio-Cortez hails move | Zuckerberg doubles down on Facebook's ad policies | GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill MORE (N.M.), withheld their votes until it was clear the measure could not get to 60, and then voted against it.

Udall and Heinrich released a statement explaining the bill would have provided funding for Trump's border wall.

The centrist deal, backed by Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (Maine), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (S.C.) and other Republicans, represented perhaps the best chance to advance legislation in the Senate, but was opposed by Trump and his allies in part because it did not cover all four immigration “pillars” he had demanded.

Two other amendments were rejected before the vote. The first, a bipartisan proposal from Sens. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenators introduce bipartisan bill restricting police use of facial recognition tech Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Bill Gates visits Capitol to discuss climate change with new Senate caucus MORE (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCain2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Defending their honor as we hear their testimony MORE (R-Ariz.), fell in a 52-47 vote. The second measure, which would have cracked down on cities that don't comply with federal immigration laws, also fell in a 55-44 vote.

The Senate will now vote on a measure mirroring Trump's proposed immigration deal, but it is also expected to fail. That will leave Congress with an uncertain path on immigration ahead of a March 5 deadline set by the president.

The centrist bill would have allowed about 1.8 million immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to remain, providing them an eventual pathway to citizenship. It also included $25 billion in border security and would have prevented the parents of “Dreamers” from being sponsored for citizenship.

“This is the only bill that has a chance to get through the United States Senate,” Sen. Angus KingAngus KingOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members Senators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing MORE (I-Maine) said during a press conference ahead of the vote.

Trump and conservatives criticized the bill for what it lacked — broad changes to family-based or “chain” immigration and the elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery program, two demands from the president.

It’s not clear whether the bill would have moved in the House, though its passage by the Senate would have increased pressure on Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis Ryan Retirees should say 'no thanks' to Romney's Social Security plan California Governor Newsom and family dress as 2020 Democrats for Halloween DC's liaison to rock 'n' roll MORE (R-Wis.).

The White House in warning the president would veto it said the bill “would undermine the safety and security of American families and impede economic growth for American workers” and result in “a flood of new illegal immigration in the coming months.”

The Department of Homeland Security separately said the proposal “ignores the lessons of 9/11” and “destroys” the ability of the department to remove undocumented immigrants from the country.

Graham fired back that the statement was “poisonous” and the department should say “thank you” whenever they get an offer that includes money for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

In an early sign that the bill would fall short, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing GOP senators frustrated with Romney jabs at Trump MORE (R-Tenn.), who supported the 2013 comprehensive immigration bill, announced on Thursday that he would oppose the bipartisan amendment and back GOP alternative also supported by Trump.

Corker’s decision comes amid speculation that he could change his mind on retiring and run for reelection.

Trump announced last year he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally to work and go to school.

Under that decision Congress had until March 5 to pass a legislative fix. That decision has been thrown into limbo by a pair of court decisions.

Harris's last-second vote put her on the opposite side of the tally from several other Democratic senators seen as 2020 hopefuls, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Following school shooting, Biden speaks out: 'We have to protect these kids' MORE (Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process MORE (N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement Krystal Ball: Patrick's 2020 bid is particularly 'troublesome' for Warren 2020 Democrats demand action on guns after Santa Clarita shooting MORE (N.J.).  

Harris said after the vote that she "could not in good conscience" support the centrist group's proposal.  

“I recognize that my colleagues faced the impossible challenge of crafting a bill that could meet the White House’s unreasonable and ever-shifting demands. But regrettably this bill is simply not the answer," she said. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings MORE (I-Vt.), another potential 2020 hopeful, defended his vote in support of the proposal, noting it is "clearly ... not the bill I would have written." 

"What we should be doing is passing a clean DREAM Act with a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and their parents. We also need to move forward and pass comprehensive immigration reform that will allow people to come out of the shadows and will unite families – not divide them," he said.