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Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE

Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE
© Greg Nash

A GOP Senate resolution supporting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — and knocking progressives' call to "abolish" it — was blocked by Democrats on Wednesday shortly after a similar measure was approved by the House. 

Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesTrump administration could use military bases to export coal, gas McConnell: No one is going to beat Murkowski in Alaska Murkowski brushes off GOP backlash: 'I'm good with' Kavanaugh vote MORE (R-Mont.) asked for unanimous consent to pass the resolution, introduced by Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), offering Senate support for ICE officials, members of the military and law enforcement.

"It is outrageous. It is irresponsible to call for abolishing one of our country's most critical security measures. Abolishing ICE would give terrorists, gang members, drug dealers and other criminals a field day," Daines said.

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But Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyEPA chief calls racist Facebook post he liked ‘absolutely offensive’ Dem senators urge Pompeo to reverse visa policy on diplomats' same-sex partners Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen MORE (D-Ore.) objected and instead asked for consent to pass legislation from Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight Affordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign MORE (D-Calif.) that would "reunite families separated at or near ports of entry" as a result of President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE’s “zero tolerance” prosecution of those who cross the southern border illegally.

Daines, in turn, objected to the request. 

"This moment hardly seems the time for the Senate to engage in debating rhetorical phrases or praise for the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency when that agency, better known as ICE, is deeply mired in the scandal of separating children from their parents," Merkley said. 

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDurbin opposes Saudi arms sale over missing journalist Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Kavanaugh tensions linger after bitter fight MORE (D-Ill.) added that the GOP resolution would support ICE "in all its functions." 

"Well, I can just tell you, I don't join in that resolution. I specifically don't join in it when it comes to the president's zero tolerance policy," he said. 

The move to block the Senate GOP resolution came as House Republicans passed their own resolution supporting ICE. 

The House measure was approved in a 244-35 vote, with 18 Democrats voting to back ICE and 34 voting against the resolution. The majority of Democrats in the chamber voted “present” at the urging of party leadership.

Calls to eliminate ICE, which was formed in 2003, have rocketed into the national spotlight after the president's zero tolerance immigration policy resulted in the separation of immigrant families detained along the border. 

Trump signed an executive order allowing families to stay together, but some progressives have seized on the issue, with protesters publicly confronting high-profile administration officials and lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJuan Williams: Trump’s policies on race are more important than his rhetoric It’s Mitch McConnell’s Washington – and we’re just living in it Trump makes new overtures to Democrats MORE (R-K). 

Progressive House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made abolishing ICE part of her campaign platform in her shocking defeat of Rep. Joseph Crowley (D) in last month’s primary in New York. And some of the party’s potential 2020 presidential hopefuls, including Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandAffordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case Pentagon watchdog knocks top admiral for handling of sexual harassment case MORE (N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHatch mocks Warren over DNA test with his own results showing '1/1032 T-Rex' Warren DNA test reinvigorates fight with Trump On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race MORE (Mass.), have rallied behind the effort to dismantle ICE.

But most Senate Democrats have stopped short of embracing calls to nix the agency. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFive takeaways from the final Tennessee Senate debate Schumer rips Trump 'Medicare for all' op-ed as 'smears and sabotage' GOP senator suspects Schumer of being behind release of Ford letter MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters following Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory that he believed ICE should be reformed instead.

An Economist–YouGov poll conducted earlier this month found that 29 percent of U.S. adults support abolishing ICE, while 46 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of liberals said they would back that effort.