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Senators fume after immigration bill failure

It was supposed to be a raucous, week-long, open floor debate on immigration -- the President's signature issue and s...

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 10:51 AM
Updated: Feb 16, 2018 10:52 AM

It was supposed to be a raucous, week-long, open floor debate on immigration -- the President's signature issue and such a contentious topic that Democrats shut the government down over it just a month ago.

Instead, it was the incredible shrinking immigration debate, which lasted roughly one hour on the floor and ended without a single amendment passing to protect DACA recipients or send a cent of funding for President Donald Trump's border wall.

"I'm ready to move on," said Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy. "We wasted a whole week here. And I'm ready to move on. There are other issues in front of us."

Fingers were pointed in all directions as members retreated from the floor, defeated, frustrated and downright mad that after weeks of negotiations, the best chance they had to broker a deal ended without any resolution for a population everyone agreed they had wanted to help.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers -- the same group responsible for helping end a government shutdown weeks before -- fumed at the White House's treatment of their proposal, which they argued could have inched toward passage, had the White House stayed on the sidelines rather than actively lobbied against them.

On the floor of the Senate, Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, was frustrated that the amendment her group had brokered without Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, was being referred to as the Schumer amendment. The name undermined the entire point of her group's efforts: that it had been reached by the middle, not by party leaders. Collins could be heard telling colleagues that the move was "so wrong."

Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, acknowledged "there were a few games being played."

"You don't forget 'em, but you just roll with them," Rounds said.

Just hours after senators had reached an agreement on a plan that provided a path to citizenship for DACA recipients in exchange for $25 billion in border security, the administration began their effort to undermine the amendment. President Donald Trump issued a veto threat. And in a briefing call with reporters Thursday, two administration officials, one of them a White House official, called the bill "outrageous" and "irresponsible," and argued it would "put many innocent lives at risk."

"The bill is so spectacularly poorly drafted, I mean unless you imagine it was drafted for the purpose of gutting immigration enforcement," the White House official said, before the officials criticized Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who fought back.

"I could care less about what an anonymous White House official says. I'm looking for leadership from the White House, not demagoguery," Graham told reporters.

Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, said he blamed the White House "a great deal."

"It is striking to me that the White House and the Department of Homeland security actively and aggressively campaigned against the McCain-Coons bill and the bipartisan Rounds-King bill and yet both of those bills got more votes significantly then the White House- initiated Grassley bill," Coons said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, lamented that the White House had missed an opportunity.

"I fear that you've got some within the White House that have not yet figured out that legislation almost by its very definition is a compromise product and compromise doesn't mean getting four Republicans together and figuring out what it is that those four agree on, it is broader," she said.

GOP efforts to kill amendment

Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, called the bipartisan bill the "olly olly oxen free amendment."

In the end, the bipartisan proposal was short six votes it needed, but did far better than the White House-backed plan, which only got 39 votes.

And it wasn't just Republican opposition that stopped the bipartisan proposal. Three Democrats also voted against the proposal. But Democrats and Republicans in the middle believed the White House's efforts had given senators on the fence little political cover to support their proposal.

With just weeks to go until the original March 5 deadline and a week of recess ahead, members acknowledged there was little time left to find a breakthrough now.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the majority whip, told reporters after the failed amendment votes that he does not see the issue of immigration being raised again soon.

"I don't see it. We couldn't get it together this week. We've got other things we have to do, which are pressing. The Majority Leader's (Mitch McConnell) the one who sets the agenda. We need to get some things done: nominations, other bipartisan legislation. If I were him, I'd be reluctant to spend another week of wasted time."

He continued, "I thought the deadline and I thought the empathy that people have for these young people would be enough to change the outcome here, but apparently not yet."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333180

Reported Deaths: 7502
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22901279
Hinds22780438
Harrison19569326
Rankin14851287
Jackson14342251
Madison10692227
Lee10437179
Jones8746169
Forrest8210157
Lauderdale7561243
Lowndes6790150
Lamar669688
Lafayette6459124
Washington5516139
Pearl River4915149
Bolivar4909134
Oktibbeha478498
Panola4723112
Marshall4654106
Warren4640127
Pontotoc440473
Monroe4255137
Union425379
Neshoba4182180
Lincoln4098115
Hancock405088
Leflore3565125
Pike3530112
Tate349588
Alcorn343974
Sunflower343093
Adams333387
Scott331775
Yazoo331173
Simpson314890
Copiah313867
Itawamba310180
Coahoma308785
Tippah298868
Prentiss292963
Covington282483
Marion279580
Leake278475
Wayne270743
Grenada266388
George261651
Newton256664
Tishomingo236869
Winston235584
Jasper226148
Attala220873
Chickasaw216360
Stone210237
Holmes195674
Clay192254
Clarke182080
Tallahatchie181742
Calhoun177532
Smith175935
Yalobusha169440
Walthall141548
Lawrence137726
Greene135734
Amite132843
Noxubee131635
Perry131038
Montgomery130944
Carroll124531
Webster117532
Jefferson Davis113334
Tunica111127
Benton104625
Claiborne104331
Kemper100729
Humphreys99133
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw81319
Wilkinson74632
Jefferson69728
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 570667

Reported Deaths: 11483
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson834821584
Mobile45819855
Madison36785532
Tuscaloosa26757465
Shelby26612255
Montgomery25739624
Baldwin23810325
Lee16801181
Calhoun15130332
Morgan14941289
Etowah14662368
Marshall12806235
Houston11515292
Elmore10654217
St. Clair10521251
Limestone10472158
Cullman10257204
Lauderdale9991253
DeKalb9298191
Talladega8739187
Walker7594286
Autauga7419113
Jackson7269117
Blount7184139
Colbert6583142
Coffee6045131
Dale5326117
Russell465842
Chilton4645117
Covington4579125
Franklin444381
Tallapoosa4379157
Escambia420082
Chambers3852125
Dallas3688163
Clarke364462
Marion3380106
Pike324879
Lawrence3192101
Winston291072
Bibb280165
Geneva271583
Marengo258567
Barbour243461
Pickens239162
Butler236172
Hale231878
Fayette224564
Henry205145
Randolph194944
Cherokee193948
Monroe192141
Washington177139
Macon167552
Crenshaw164458
Clay162559
Cleburne159145
Lamar149538
Lowndes144354
Wilcox129231
Bullock125642
Conecuh118130
Coosa116029
Perry109928
Sumter108032
Greene97836
Choctaw63825
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Columbus
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Tuesday more very hot and humid conditions will be the rule across our area. Some isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms will be possible at times. A few heavy and hefty thunderstorms cannot be ruled out of the question at times.
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