Senate agreement on immigration bill 'on life support'

A large bipartisan group of Senators led by Sen. Susan Collins presented an immigration compromise bill today which would resolve the legal status of nearly two million “Dreamers” and provide a substantial amount of money for border security. However, both President trump and Senate Democrats are unhappy with aspects of the proposal. From the NY Times:

Senators in both parties have been racing against a self-imposed end-of-the-week deadline to write legislation that could win wide support by increasing border security while at the same time offering a path to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

Members of the bipartisan group, which calls itself the Common Sense Coalition, said their deal does just that. They were working Wednesday evening to determine whether their bill could garner the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster.

“The president’s going to have a vote on his concept. I don’t think it will get 60 votes,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a member of the group, adding: “The bottom line then is: What do you do next? You can do what we’ve done for the last 35 years — blame each other. Or you can actually start fixing the broken immigration system. If you came out of this with strong border security — the president getting his wall and the Dream Act population being taken care of — most Americans would applaud.”

Meanwhile, there are several competing proposals, some more to the president’s liking and some more to the liking of Senate Democrats. Vox has created a chart which is helpful sorting through the different bills. Senate Democrats now seem willing to accept a deal that would provide money for border security in exchange for a DACA fix but they are eager to avoid signing on to the rest of Trump’s plan regarding changes to legal immigration.

But Trump isn’t ready to concede the rest of his “four pillars” plan yet. Axios reported yesterday that President Trump is threatening to veto any bill that doesn’t adhere to those four pillars. Those elements are found in the bill authored by Sen. Grassley. Some Republicans say they are holding out for that version. From a Politico story headlined “Senate immigration deal on life support”:

Republicans who are committed to Trump’s plan showed no signs of deviating from his four-pillar foundation to a narrower bill that would focus simply on border security and a path to legalization for some undocumented immigrants. Privately, some Republicans fumed a bill being sold as bipartisan had the fingerprints of Democratic leaders on it.

“The four pillars are what he would sign into law,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a top Trump ally who panned the bipartisan agreement. “It also has to pass the House. This is the question for the United States Senate: Do we want to pass a bill, or do we want to pass a law?”

As you might imagine, that argument probably isn’t going to go very far with Senate Democrats who could care less what rowdy House Republicans want. After a closed-door meeting of Democrats today, Sen. Heitkamp said, “We’re being asked to make some tough compromises.” Similarly, Politico reports Sen. Claire McCaskill said, “By and large, I’m hopeful that we’ll get there, but some of this stuff is hard to take.”

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