GOP senator: 'We were there' on immigration before talks got derailed

GOP senator: 'We were there' on immigration before talks got derailed
© Greg Nash
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTransit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - Infrastructure vote fails; partisan feud erupts over Jan. 6 panel Senate falling behind on infrastructure MORE (R-Maine) asserted Wednesday that the Senate had enough votes to pass an immigration bill in February but talks were derailed by the administration.
 
Collins said during a Senate Appropriations hearing that an immigration deal fell apart after the Department of Homeland Security issued a "misleading" memo and President TrumpDonald TrumpPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Has Trump beaten the system? MORE threatened to veto the bill.
 
“We were there," said Collins, who pushed to secure support for legislation earlier this year. "At one point I could count the 60 votes.”
 
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The Senate voted on four separate proposals in February, after Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHas Trump beaten the system? Yellen to Congress: Raise the debt ceiling or risk 'irreparable harm' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Tokyo Olympics kick off with 2020-style opening ceremony MORE (R-Ky.) promised to bring immigration bills to the floor to end a short-lived government shutdown led by Democrats. But all four proposals fell short of the 60 votes necessary to advance.
 
Lawmakers voted on a flurry of immigration measures after Trump canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September.
 
Trump gave Congress until March to find a legislative replacement for DACA, but neither chamber has passed a bill and the House has yet to vote on any proposal. 
 
Several court rulings have kept the Obama-era program in place as lawmakers have weighed efforts to enshrine the protections in law.
 
Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDemocrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases Unsealed documents detail Trump and Biden efforts on reporter records MORE told Collins during the Senate panel hearing Wednesday that it's "unfortunate" an immigration bill hasn't come together, but added that a deal on DACA is still possible.
 
“Look, I’ll be frank. My view is a plan that would end the illegality, along with some relief for the DACA young people, is possible. It can be done,” said Sessions, who has maintained a hard-line position on illegal immigration.
 
Of the four bills that the Senate voted on earlier this year, a centrist, bipartisan measure got the most votes (54-45), but it failed to overcome the chamber's 60-vote threshold.
 
Collins hosted bipartisan talks that produced that proposal, which Trump threatened to veto because it did not cover all four "pillars" of the White House immigration proposal.
 
Still, the centrist approach outperformed all other proposals. Trump's proposal received the fewest votes, with 14 GOP senators and all but three Democrats opposing it.