- The Senate failed to reach an agreement on multiple plans for border security and solutions to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Thursday.
- As House Republicans move forward with their immigration bill, senators are uncertain about what steps will come next.
WASHINGTON – The Senate failed at several attempts to pass different solutions to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program alongside bolstered border security on Thursday, effectively ending debate on the issue for the foreseeable future.
The White House threatened to veto the bipartisan amendments in a telephone briefing with reporters, calling the proposal from the so-called Common Sense Coalition dead on arrival. A White House official also said they were requesting that Senate offices withdraw their sponsorships of the plan.
The bipartisan amendment, backed by Sens. Chuck Schumer, Susan Collins, and others, would have provided a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants benefitting from DACA and $US25 billion for border security.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security condemned the Collins-Schumer plan as “an egregious violation of the four compromise pillars laid out by the President’s immigration reform framework.”
The amendment failed to surpass the 60 vote threshold by a total of 54-45.
“You’ve got people at the White House who’ve made it their career to stop immigration reform – the president’s not one of those people,” said GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was a cosponsor of the bipartisan plan. “So the demagogues of the left and the right are gonna win again.”
Instead, the White House backed a proposal by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa that would legalise the 1.8 million undocumented immigrants, allot $US25 billion for border security upgrades including a wall and fencing along the US-Mexico border, and significantly reduce legal immigration levels by eliminating the diversity lottery and limiting family immigration.
On the Senate floor just before voting began, Grassley called his amendment the “last chance” to provide a pathway to citizenship.
After Grassley’s amendment failed 39-60, he walked back his pessimistic assessment of the immigrants’ fate.
“I think we have a real opportunity after the House passes one to get back on it,” Grassley told reporters. “I think this is it for a while for the Senate.”
Grassley also shunned the possibility of a potential short-term fix, which lawmakers quickly began to discuss after all the amendments crashed on Thursday.
“If you want a bill, you can do three years,” Grassley said. “But if you want a law, you got to get something the president will sign.”
Republican leaders in the House are already whipping members to back the conservative bill offered by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Michael McCaul. That plan does not provide a pathway to citizenship and is already at odds with where many in the Senate stand on the issue, suggesting a rocky road ahead.
“As long as the president allows Steve Miller and others to run the show down there, we’re never gonna get anywhere,” Graham said.