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Immigration state of play: 48 hours of Senate debate to go

The World's Greatest Deliberative Body (the US Senate) has had a bang-up start to its "freewheeling debate" over immi...

Posted: Feb 14, 2018 2:52 PM
Updated: Feb 14, 2018 2:53 PM

The World's Greatest Deliberative Body (the US Senate) has had a bang-up start to its "freewheeling debate" over immigration, with battles over process and which amendment votes destined to fail get taken when. But here's the key point, according to several senior aides: ignore all of that. It's noise.

Bottom line: The pathway(s) to 60 votes are all being formed behind the scenes right now. A lot needs to change in the current posture for a true resolution to come to the forefront. These next 48 hours will make or break that effort.

Does a proposal exist that can get 60 votes: Not yet.

What to watch Wednesday:

- Senate comes into session at 10 a.m. ET

- House GOP leadership press conference 10 a.m.

- Senate votes to move forward on immigration debate 10:30 a.m.

- Senate likely to set up amendment votes after the 10:30 a.m. vote

The big picture:

Some important context here, according to several aides involved in this process: there is this broad assumption that the solution, if one is to exist, is whatever a bipartisan group of moderates comes up with in the next day or so. That will take the key elements of the White House proposal, soften them on several fronts (most notably on family migration) and find some broad 65-68 vote consensus.

Here's the thing missing from that: the White House, according to officials, firmly believes they've already made the compromise (on pathway to citizenship) and a fairly sizable group of Senate Republicans -- and an even larger group of House Republicans -- agree with that perspective. They've put something else on the table, according to officials: eliminating the cuts to legal immigration in their proposal, and instead moving the visas eliminated through the ending of the diversity visa program and family migration into other categories.

Is the President really going to veto a DACA solution that gets to his desk? That's not the operative question. The President has to actively get behind something the Senate passes for it to have any chance in the House. All he has to do is show his distaste, or disinterest, in any Senate compromise, and it dies.

In other words: there really is no clear path to a DACA resolution right now, beyond Democrats moving toward the White House proposal (Never. Going. To. Happen.), or the President moving firmly off his. For some reason Democrats believe the latter will happen. But ask them why. The answers aren't great.

Is the slow start an ominous sign?

Not really. The bottom line is this -- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised an open debate. He didn't make any promises to limit what amendments he'd put forward. Well, an open debate means McConnell can bring up one (or many) very difficult political votes for red state Democrats up in 2018.

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer obviously wants to avoid those to the extent he can. So here we are.

The behind the scenes here is Democrats don't want things to really move forward until they have something they think can get 60 votes. They don't have that yet, so blocking amendments procedurally is likely to continue to some extent.

Reminder:

Things move very slow in the Senate until they don't. When things start to move, they will move quickly.

Is the week-only debate timeline a problem:

Not really. In speaking with Democrats, they largely (at this point) agree with McConnell: these issues have been discussed for years. If a proposal that can get 60 votes exists, it can be figured out in a week. Don't discount the fact that Democrats want a hard deadline on this, too. As one aide put it to me: "We have to pin down the moderate Republicans somehow, and a deadline is the best way to do it."

The bipartisan sticking point(s):

The bipartisan moderate conversations -- the great Democratic hope as it is -- have been kept closely held, but multiple sources say it really does all come down to the family migration issue, most notably, what to do with the parents of the DACA eligible individuals. There is an agreement to limit the family migration restrictions to just the DACA population (as opposed to the entire immigration system, as the President proposes), but how to specifically handle the parents of that population remains a very sticky issue, aides say.

Find a compromise that works for the moderate Republicans on that issue, and things likely unlock. At several points Tuesday there was optimism things were headed in the right direction, then that seemed to level off, then back again, senators said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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Little bits and pieces of low pressure move back into our area over the next several days. This will bring back into our weather forecast some more chances for some isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms.
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