The Great Senate Immigration Debate That Wasn’t


This was supposed to be the week when the Senate strutted its stuff, when the vaunted committee of 100 held an open, freewheeling debate to resolve—for now—the weighty issue of immigration and the fate of 700,000 young undocumented immigrants whose protection from deportation could soon expire. There would be no precooked deals foisted upon senators by their leadership, no pointless political grandstanding.

Under an agreement reached between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that ended last month’s government shutdown—not to be confused with this month’s—the Senate would spend a week debating immigration, border security, and the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Trump plans to end on March 5. Senators would consider amendments from all sides, vote them up or down, and hopefully arrive at a consensus that could muster 60 votes and move on to the House.

Well, so much for that.

Two days into immigration week on the Senate floor, there’s been hardly any debating and even less voting. The Great Immigration Debate has devolved into yet another partisan staring contest, with McConnell and Schumer bickering over which proposals get votes and when.

“I’m ready to get started. This is the debate they said they wanted,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday afternoon, outside a Senate chamber that was curiously devoid of much activity. “We could have voted on amendments all day today.”

Shortly after noon, Schumer had rejected McConnell’s bid to hold an opening vote on a proposal from Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania that would withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities that shield undocumented immigrants from federal law enforcement. The Senate had already voted to begin debate on what was essentially a blank piece of legislation offered by McConnell, and Toomey’s proposal would have been the first amendment. That measure, Schumer complained, “does absolutely nothing to address DACA, does absolutely nothing to address border security.”

McConnell, in turn, blocked Schumer’s request to vote on a pair of DACA bills: one from Republicans reflecting Trump’s proposal to combine a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants with funding for a border wall and reductions in legal immigration, and a bipartisan measure that represents the Democrats’ starting bid—it would offer citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for border-security money. “I don’t think either of them will get large bipartisan support, but it will give us an idea of the parameters and can set us …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

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