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GOP senators drafting legislation to keep immigrant families together

GOP senators drafting legislation to keep immigrant families together
© Greg Nash

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: Obama to hit the campaign trail l Biden's eye-popping cash advantage l New battleground polls favor Biden Quinnipiac poll finds Biden, Trump tied in Texas Biden endorses Texas Democratic House candidate Julie Oliver MORE (R-Texas) said on Tuesday that a group of Republican senators is drafting legislation that would prevent the separation of immigrant families at the U.S. border with Mexico.

Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said the legislation is currently being crafted by a working group of GOP senators, but they are hoping to pitch the Senate Republican Conference on the bill as early as the Tuesday policy lunch.

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"The bottom line is that it would make sure families stay together through the entirety of the legal proceedings and make sure they get an expedited hearing in front of an immigration judge," Cornyn said.

Cornyn's comments come as President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE's "zero tolerance" immigration policy along the southern border, which is forcing the separation of migrant families, has sparked high-profile backlash among Republicans. GOP lawmakers are weighing what, if any, action they should take to push back on Trump.

Senate Democrats have united behind a bill from Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDemocrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination The Senate should evoke RBG in its confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Pelosi, Mnuchin push stimulus talks forward, McConnell applies brakes MORE (D-Calif.), but Republicans argue that bill is too broad and would result in the release of immigrants trying to enter the United States illegally.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzQuinnipiac poll finds Biden, Trump tied in Texas China could cut our access to critical minerals at any time — here's why we need to act The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Two weeks out, Trump attempts to rally the base MORE (R-Texas) is expected to introduce his own bill, while Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHillicon Valley: Threatening emails raise election concerns | Quibi folds after raising nearly B | Trump signs law making it a crime to hack voting systems Trump signs legislation making hacking voting systems a federal crime Jaime Harrison on Lindsey Graham postponing debate: 'He's on the verge of getting that one-way ticket back home' MORE (R-S.C.) said 40 senators approached him to discuss legislation during a Monday night vote series.

Cornyn added that the working group is trying to come up with one bill that could merge the various ideas being bandied about the Republican conference.

"My understanding of what the staff has done is come up with a consensus of all these bills ... that could garner the broader support in our conference," he said. "Ideally, what we'd do is be able to get this hotlined and get it to the president's desk in short order."

He said separately that if they could get enough support for their legislation it could be moved through the Senate "in a matter of days."

But any legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate. Getting a bill "hotlined" would require the consent of every senator, which could be a political impossibility on an issue as divisive as immigration.

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonCotton mocks NY Times over claim of nonpartisanship, promises to submit op-eds as test Barrett fight puts focus on abortion in 2020 election COVID outbreak threatens GOP's Supreme Court plans MORE (R-Ark.), who is a part of Cornyn's working group, separately told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he would try to attach an immigration proposal to a larger appropriations bill being debated by the Senate this week.

"All we need to do ... is overturn the so-called Flores Settlement, allow families to be held at the border, provide a little bit of extra money to the military and [Department of Homeland Security] for family housing units while those claims are adjudicated," he said.

Cotton added that "we’re going to offer an amendment this week on the spending bill. It can be done promptly."