STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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.

Confirmed Cases: 119336

Reported Deaths: 3328
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8109180
DeSoto734280
Harrison553785
Jackson488488
Rankin412386
Madison388094
Lee368682
Forrest313478
Jones298484
Washington2644100
Lauderdale2611135
Lafayette256043
Lamar234040
Oktibbeha206055
Bolivar205279
Neshoba1883111
Lowndes182862
Leflore173088
Panola172241
Sunflower165949
Warren156656
Monroe154873
Pontotoc151520
Marshall150530
Lincoln144859
Pike140956
Copiah139936
Scott128129
Coahoma126537
Union126025
Yazoo124534
Simpson124049
Grenada123139
Tate123039
Pearl River117960
Itawamba117827
Leake117042
Holmes115160
Adams110245
Prentiss109520
Alcorn105012
Wayne103422
George103020
Covington99729
Marion96944
Tippah95124
Hancock88128
Newton88128
Chickasaw87028
Winston85921
Tallahatchie85826
Tishomingo83141
Attala80927
Clarke78353
Clay71522
Jasper69817
Walthall64827
Calhoun63613
Smith60816
Noxubee60317
Yalobusha56616
Montgomery56523
Lawrence55314
Claiborne54216
Tunica53917
Perry52823
Carroll50912
Stone49814
Greene48218
Humphreys45817
Amite43413
Jefferson Davis42412
Quitman4246
Webster38213
Benton36911
Wilkinson34321
Kemper33415
Sharkey29115
Jefferson28110
Franklin2533
Choctaw2096
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 162720

Reported Deaths: 2735
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23940385
Mobile17123319
Tuscaloosa10602141
Montgomery10503199
Madison955798
Shelby760565
Baldwin676869
Lee664965
Calhoun476562
Marshall447451
Etowah441952
Morgan430835
Houston423934
DeKalb355429
Elmore327858
St. Clair311342
Limestone297031
Walker287493
Talladega276437
Cullman266525
Lauderdale240543
Jackson225317
Autauga212631
Colbert210232
Franklin209432
Blount200925
Russell19833
Chilton192332
Dallas189227
Dale184952
Coffee183611
Covington177329
Escambia175831
Clarke138717
Chambers138047
Tallapoosa137287
Pike136414
Marion110931
Barbour10559
Marengo104622
Butler101941
Winston94713
Geneva9427
Pickens89018
Lawrence88533
Bibb86115
Randolph84616
Hale78130
Cherokee76414
Clay76312
Washington75812
Henry7316
Lowndes72128
Monroe66310
Bullock65117
Crenshaw61230
Fayette59913
Perry5996
Cleburne5799
Conecuh57213
Wilcox57112
Macon54320
Lamar5235
Sumter48621
Choctaw39512
Greene34516
Coosa2173
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 49°
Columbus
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 47°
Oxford
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Starkville
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 43°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather