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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: 307836

Reported Deaths: 7119
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20784248
Hinds19894408
Harrison17493302
Rankin13316275
Jackson13099243
Madison9896210
Lee9859169
Jones8293160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7189237
Lowndes6265144
Lamar610784
Lafayette6028117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4770129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4420139
Warren4281118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403775
Neshoba3988176
Lincoln3871108
Hancock372185
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322781
Pike3181104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296876
Copiah293065
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284868
Prentiss275659
Marion265979
Wayne261341
Leake261173
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245982
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213373
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158634
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126323
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120141
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81923
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 519071

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754131487
Mobile37774798
Madison33868494
Tuscaloosa25283443
Montgomery23969565
Shelby23112238
Baldwin20638300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14286311
Morgan14140268
Etowah13664345
Marshall11957219
Houston10383278
Elmore9994200
Limestone9814147
Cullman9475188
St. Clair9429234
Lauderdale9218227
DeKalb8747181
Talladega8060171
Walker7092275
Jackson6755110
Autauga6727103
Blount6488135
Colbert6205130
Coffee5401112
Dale4768110
Russell428938
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia388074
Dallas3527149
Chambers3500122
Clarke346360
Marion3066100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256458
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224955
Hale218775
Butler212366
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171540
Washington164038
Macon154848
Clay149454
Crenshaw149357
Cleburne146041
Lamar139334
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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