Immigration showdown today in the Senate with no good choices

UPDATE 4:15 pm: The Senate today rejected all four immigration proposals offered. The least harmful was the bipartisan plan. Although eight Republicans joined Democrats to bring the bill to the floor, it failed to muster the 60 votes needed. Sen. Menendez in chamber said, “It’s far from being the deal I would want, but time is running out for Dreamers. I am prepared to vote for it as the only deal that has a shot of becoming a law.” Sen. Booker joined him. Minority Leader Schumer expressed his unhappiness about the proposal but urged Dems to support it as the best compromise possible. The particularly nasty Grassley proposal trumpeted by Trump and McConnell fared even worse. So we are at a standstill, with immigration reform on life support. No further action is anticipated this week.

UPDATE: Today, the White House issued a veto threat against the bipartisan immigration plan emerging in the Senate, likely dimming congressional attempts to protect ‘Dreamers’ from deportation, this despite an attempt to incorporate elements from Trump’s immigration framework to gain his support. Washington Post has that report.  – Rosi

Sen. Bob Menendez (seen above yesterday) after he spoke on the chamber floor criticizing President Donald Trump’s immigration policy and supporting a reasonable solution for “Dreamers.” Sen. Cory Booker has voted against every recent spending bill because he has not seen a vote on an immigration fix. Well today is the showdown as the Senate will debate and might vote on various proposed immigration plans. There are no good choices. It is unclear if any bill will receive the Democratic support needed to muster 60 votes.

Republican Sen. Grassley’s proposal would provide a path to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA recipients, $25 billion in border security and wall funding, limits on family-based migration, and would eliminate the diversity visa lottery. It is characterized by Indivisible “as a racist bill written by white supremacists to use Dreamers as bargaining chips to advance a draconian anti-immigrant agenda.” President Trump has strongly urged senators to vote for this bill and has threatened to veto anything else. No Democrats so far have supported the measure.

A bipartisan group, the self-dubbed “Common Sense Caucus” led by Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), on Wednesday circulated legislation that would grant legal status to 1.8 million young immigrants and would appropriate $25 billion for southern border security construction projects over the next decade — not immediately, as Trump wants. The bill also would curb family-based immigration programs, but not to the extent Trump is seeking, and would not end a diversity visa lottery program that he wants eliminated. It is closer to what Democrats would like, but far from ideal.

Other proposals may also come up for a vote. Even if a bill is passed in the Senate today, House Speaker Ryan has said he will only bring to the floor a bill which the President supports. This catch 22 suggests that any reasonable immigration reform is on life support.

C-SPAN (and likely other channels) will provide live coverage. The Senate is scheduled to start at 10:00 am.

Above preview photo: credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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