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 DainesLand conservation tax incentives should inspire charitable giving, not loopholes Montana governor visiting Iowa amid talk of possible 2020 bid Will Senate GOP try to pass a budget this year? 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 MerkleyGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The border deal: What made it in, what got left out Lawmakers introduce bill to fund government, prevent shutdown MORE (D-Ore.) objected and instead asked for consent to pass legislation from Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris criticized by Jamaican father over marijuana joke Harris adds key Clinton aide, women of color to 2020 campaign: report Coast Guard lieutenant arrested, accused of planning domestic terrorism MORE (D-Calif.) that would "reunite families separated at or near ports of entry" as a result of President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration 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: Trump pressuring acting AG in Cohen probe is 'no surprise' Durbin after reading Green New Deal: 'What in the heck is this?' Sanders: 'Not crazy' about nixing the Senate filibuster 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 McConnellFox News has covered Ocasio-Cortez more than any 2020 Dem besides Warren: analysis Durbin after reading Green New Deal: 'What in the heck is this?' Dems think they're beating Trump in emergency declaration battle 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 GillibrandCongress needs to bring family and medical leave policies into the 21st century Trump campaign fundraising on Bernie Sanders's M haul Gillibrand tells Iowan ‘ranch girl’ that pizza is on her next time MORE (N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenCoast Guard lieutenant arrested, accused of planning domestic terrorism Hillicon Valley: Microsoft reveals new Russian hack attempts | Google failed to disclose hidden microphone | Booker makes late HQ2 bid | Conservative group targets Ocasio-Cortez over Amazon Trump campaign fundraising on Bernie Sanders's M haul 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 SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration 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.