Bipartisan group of senators scrambling to draft immigration bill

A bipartisan group of roughly 20 senators that's been huddling behind closed doors for weeks is furiously working to ...

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 6:11 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 6:11 AM

A bipartisan group of roughly 20 senators that's been huddling behind closed doors for weeks is furiously working to draft a bill that they can propose during an expected floor showdown on immigration next week.

If they are successful, it would mean at least one-fifth of the Senate would have established an influential voting block to shape the debate over immigration and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Emerging from one of their closed-door meetings Thursday, senators said multiple members are drafting language for compromise legislation, though they acknowledged they still don't have a consensus yet.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said she would be "shocked" if they didn't end up introducing their plan next week.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who hosts the meetings in her office on a near-daily basis, said there will "probably" be more than one proposal that emerges from their recent talks that could serve as amendments during next week's debate, though she added it's "too early to tell."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to bring up immigration next week in a rare neutral Senate floor debate. The Republican has pledged to allow for amendments from both sides, but it's still unclear how many amendments either side will be able to offer. And the expectation is any proposal would need 60 votes to succeed, a high bar that may make a major immigration compromise unlikely.

Other groups of senators are expected to introduce amendments as well. The White House also has its own framework, and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn confirmed this week that some Republican lawmakers are working to draft a version based on those bullet points.

The bipartisan group of roughly 20 lawmakers, which calls itself the Common Sense Coalition, is aiming to operate as a voting bloc that can help steer the debate. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, who is working with members of the group said the goal would be to get 60 votes on the bipartisan amendment, and "then that would be it, we'd resist everything else, any other amendments."

It's unclear just how many members will make up the coalition in the end. The group could be influential if they vote as a unit, though it's not clear that everyone would get on board. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, said the number of supporters they have depends on the contours of the proposal. In their negotiations, sometimes a proposal will garner 30 members, while a different proposal will have 20 or 40.

"The challenge with immigration is it's a very broad range of concerns," he said.

Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma cautioned that a final deal hasn't been reached yet. "It's one thing to edit concepts, it's another thing to look at language and go, 'no this doesn't work,' and then try to make adjustments from there," he told reporters.

While the White House wants an immigration bill that focuses on four key pillars -- increasing border security, resolving DACA, ending the visa diversity lottery, and heavily curtailing family-based immigration, or chain migration, as they call it, multiple senators stressed that a bill has little chance of passing unless it narrows to just two of those pillars: DACA and border security.

"I think a lot of people are learning that immigration's complicated. The more we try to do, the more unanswered questions emerge," said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who was part of a different group of senators that pushed a much larger immigration bill in 2013. It was passed by the Senate but went nowhere in the House.

Like Rubio, Coons also endorses the concept of a narrower bill. "The challenge is, there's lot of other proposals that the White House and others want to address," he said.

The clock, however, is ticking, and the group is hoping to strike a final deal by Monday or Tuesday, roughly when McConnell is expected to kick off the amendment process.

"We don't have any choice, right?" said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire. "Next week's coming."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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