The Senate is about to hold a rare open debate on immigration that will start with an empty bill, to be filled with whatever Senate amendments that are offered and can pass the Senate:
WSJ – The immigration debate that begins Monday in the Senate promises to be the rarest of things in Washington: a freewheeling, open-ended battle over one of the thorniest subjects, with the expected outcome completely unclear. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) will begin debate on a shell bill that has no immigration provisions, to be filled in with senators’ amendments. The process could take days or weeks, depending on the number of amendments offered and the amount of time Mr. McConnell wishes to devote to a single policy area.
It is rare these days for a bill to come to the floor that doesn’t have built-in support from the majority party; even rarer still one that is essentially an empty vessel—to be filled with the ideas of whichever group of senators can come up with the needed votes. The primary goal for many senators is to protect young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, who will soon lose Obama-era protections. But the lawmakers will consider a wide range of other ideas aimed at combating illegal immigration and overhauling the system of legal immigration.
Who knows what this bill will look like when it’s all said and done, especially with such a small Republican majority. According to the chyron on Fox News right now, McConnell is planning on letting this debate go on for two weeks.
It sounds like it’s gonna be one moderate mess.
While this is going on, seven Senators are going to file a new immigration bill similar to the one Trump offered that offers a path to citizenship for illegal Dreamers:
THE HILL – A group of GOP senators are preparing to introduce an immigration plan that lines up with President Trump’s framework as the Senate barrels toward a heated debate over the issue.
Seven GOP senators, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), will file the bill, known as the Secure and Succeed Act, on Monday.
“Our proposal is supported by the President, who’s come a long way to reach a compromise. This is the only Senate proposal that has any chance of passing the House and being signed into law,” Grassley said in a statement.
The legislation mirrors Trump’s framework by offering a path to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million immigrants brought into the country as children illegally in exchange for $25 billion in border security.
It would also place new limits on family-based immigration, a key point for conservatives but considered a nonstarter for many Democrats.
And it would toughen interior enforcement, including implementing E-Verify, strengthening penalties for immigrants who re-enter the country illegally after being deported and cracking down on visa overstays.
In addition to Grassley, the proposal is backed by GOP Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), Thom Tillis (N.C.), David Perdue (Ga.), James Lankford (Okla.), Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Joni Ernst (Iowa).
Once again Republicans are leading with the path to citizenship. Thanks Trump.
It’d be bad enough if we ended up granting citizenship, but to start with the idea of granting citizenship gives Republicans no budging room in negotiations, at least with respect to the illegal Dreamers. Very Boehner-esk.
UPDATE: Here’s more on the open debate:
Immigration, border security and DACA are front and center in the Senate this week. Procedural vote at 5:30 pm et to clear a filibuster & start debate on such a bill. If successful, Senate will formally begin debate late tonight or tomorrow— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 12, 2018
The bill at hand in the Senate is a “shell.” It’s set up in a way so senators can propose amendments on immigration, DACA and border security. Expect a lot of “messaging” votes and amendments this week. Also expect a lot of things to fail.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 12, 2018
Whoever gets to 60 votes on amendments ‘wins’:
McConnell has hinted that whoever gets to "60" with amdnts on immigration/DACA/border security bill "wins." Expect many votes on amdts to be subject to 60 vote threshold. Expect many proposals to score 50-plus yeas. But not 60. In other words, very little could get done.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 12, 2018
Requiring 60 votes on amdts in Senate is sometimes a deal with the devil. If an amdt attains 60, it has a real chance of going somewhere. But imposing the 60 vote plateau is also a good way to euthanize controversial issues which otherwise secure a majority of support.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 12, 2018
McConnell on immigration/border security/DACA bill: As I have repeated many times, I will ensure that a fair amendment process gives senators the opportunity to submit proposals for consideration and votes.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 12, 2018
McConnell on GOP immigration/DACA plan: It’s our best chance of producing a solution that can actually resolve these matters -- which requires that a bill pass the Senate..The time for political posturing is behind us— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 12, 2018
Just as I suspected. It’s gonna be a squishy moderate mess.