- Senate Republicans held a closed-door meeting to hash out a legislative solution to the Trump administration’s policy of separating asylum-seeking families at the US-Mexico border.
- The GOP conference has yet to find a formal solution, and en masse is rejecting the Democrats’ proposal.
WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans attempted to form a consensus on providing a solution to the Trump administration’s policy of separating families who cross the US-Mexico border illegally, but a path forward still appears to be an insurmountable task.
Senate Republicans debated different solutions during a closed-door lunch on Tuesday, emerging with a broad view of what to do.
“The president says we need to act, the Democrats say we need to act, and we say we need to act,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after the meeting. “So when that happens, we act.”
But McConnell hinted that Republicans are not anywhere close to an agreement, let alone a bipartisan one.
“The first thing is to see if we agree and the second thing then is to see how you process it,” he said.
Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said a cohesive bipartisan approach is the ultimate goal, but remains far away.
“I think there’s a real interest in trying to find some common ground and whatever we do, we want to be able to do it on a bipartisan basis so it could move fairly quickly,” Rounds said. “But we got a lot of work to do there.”
If a solution is reached, it is unclear what vessel it would take to be passed. According to GOP aides, one option Republicans are considering is attaching it as an amendment to one of the must-pass spending packages this week. Another is doing a standalone bill, though the White House is not fond of that method, according to CNN.
“My assumption is, in order to fix this problem, you can’t fix all the problems,” McConnell said, noting the difficulty of passing a more comprehensive immigration plan with the family separation solution added to the bill. “Because obviously we’ve wrestled with this issue for a decade.”
The only certain consensus from the meeting, though, was that the Senate Democrats’ proposal was not going anywhere and any effort would need to be bipartisan.
“There’s certainly a consensus that we[re not going to codify catch and release, which is what 49 Democrats want to do,” Sen. Tom Cotton told reporters after noting the discussions were ongoing. “Because their bill would basically make children at the border a get into the US free ticket and a get out of jail free ticket.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans are gearing up to vote on two different immigration bills this week. The entire House Republican Conference will meet Tuesday evening before their first vote series of the week, with President Donald Trump in attendance.
Members will be waiting for Trump’s feedback on both of the bills up for consideration. Because House Speaker Paul Ryan has repeatedly said he will not consider a bill that Trump will not sign, all eyes are now on the president.
The hour long meeting will likely be tense, as each faction of Republicans try to convince Trump that their plan is best.
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