Coming soon: Another showdown over Dreamers in Congress

The next immigration battle might be right around the corner.

The Senate’s protracted debate last week deadlocked with a predictable flurry of finger-pointing and insults. But the chamber will likely reprise the fight ahead of the next and presumably final deadline to avoid another government shutdown on March 23.

A must-pass, roughly $1.3 trillion spending bill may be the last chance before the midterm elections for the two parties to achieve their top immigration-related priorities: protecting Dreamers from deportation or build President Donald Trump’s border wall. Whether they can succeed after their repeated failures is anyone’s guess, but they’re expected to try.

One possibility would be a scaled-down compromise that would extend protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants for an additional three years in exchange for three years of wall funding. That would punt the decision on a permanent fix past Trump’s first term as president.

Other Continue reading “Coming soon: Another showdown over Dreamers in Congress”

Flake plans new push on Dreamers

Despite the collapse of this week’s immigration debate, Jeff Flake isn’t giving up.

The retiring Arizona Republican said he plans to go to the Senate floor as soon as the chamber returns from next week’s recess and will demand a vote on his plan to provide $7.6 billion in border wall money spread over three years in exchange for three years of codification of the expiring Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals program.

“I’ll just keep at it. I do think that’s something the Democrats can go for,” Flake said in a telephone interview Friday.

Flake expects co-sponsors in both parties for his effort; Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has also spoken favorably of going to a small-ball deal if more comprehensive efforts failed. She said Thursday that she consistently raised the possible backup plan during bipartisan talks that failed to produce a bill that could win 60 votes.

Continue reading “Flake plans new push on Dreamers”

Senate set for face-plant on immigration

The Senate’s much-hyped immigration debate is heading toward a megaflop on Thursday.

All three plans slated for votes are shy of the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, likely leaving lawmakers with nothing to show for weeks of talks and Dreamers in limbo.

A bipartisan agreement unveiled Wednesday faces intense skepticism from the left flank of the Democratic caucus and hardening resistance from many Republicans amid a White House campaign to defeat it. It would give an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship while spending $25 billion on border security.

“It’s a pig in a poke,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a close Trump ally, of the bipartisan bill.

But Republicans also acknowledge a GOP amendment that would enshrine President Donald Trump’s four-part immigration framework, including cuts to legal immigration, is also short of 60 votes. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has said that he could support Continue reading “Senate set for face-plant on immigration”

Trump readies blame game if Senate fails on DACA

President Donald Trump is refusing to budge from his immigration framework, and he and his allies on Capitol Hill are laying the groundwork to heap the blame on Democrats if the Senate fails to reach a deal this week.

In Trump’s view, according to administration officials and GOP senators, he’s already compromised beyond where he and his staff felt comfortable by offering 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. And if Democrats want to step up this week and sink the president’s proposal, that will be on them, they said.

“It seems to me this ought to be a pretty sweet bipartisan deal to solve the problem,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said of the president’s proposal. If Democrats reject it, “I think we’re looking pretty good from a PR standpoint.”

“Anything that goes left of this wouldn’t even get taken up in the House. The Continue reading “Trump readies blame game if Senate fails on DACA”

Corker edges closer to reelection bid

Sen. Bob Corker is inching closer to ditching his retirement plans and running for reelection.

After a person close to the Tennessee Republican said Monday the senator was “listening” to those imploring him to run again, Corker’s team went further on Tuesday, acknowledging he is reconsidering his decision to call it quits after two terms.

“In recent days, people across Tennessee have reached out to Senator Corker with concerns about the outcome of this election because they believe it could determine control of the Senate and the future of our agenda. The senator has been encouraged to reconsider his decision and is listening closely,” said Micah Johnson, a spokeswoman for the senator.

Corker faces a tough fight if he chooses to get back in. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has put up strong fundraising and poll numbers in a primary that Corker ostensibly left last fall amid a feud with Continue reading “Corker edges closer to reelection bid”

McConnell: One week only to solve DACA

Mitch McConnell is not going to let the immigration debate get out of hand.

The Senate majority leader on Tuesday announced that the Senate’s work on a solution to the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will be limited to this week. McConnell said Democrats should have been ready for this week’s crucial test of whether the Senate can produce 60 votes for an immigration bill.

“Senators have had plenty of time to prepare. There’s no reason why we should not reach a bipartisan solution this week. But to do this, we need to get the debate started, look past making political points and focus on actually making law,” McConnell said.

Several Republican senators were under the impression last week that McConnell could allow multiple weeks of debate. That prospect seems to have faded, though, as senators race to submit their amendments to a blank immigration bill now on Continue reading “McConnell: One week only to solve DACA”

Flake looks to meet Trump in the middle on immigration

Sen. Jeff Flake is trying to meet President Donald Trump halfway on immigration.

The Arizona senator and Trump foil will on Tuesday file an immigration amendment that mirrors some of the contours of the president’s plan. It will go further than some Democrats would like like in tweaks to legal immigration and not as far as some border hawks will prefer, according to a summary provided to POLITICO.

The amendment appears to be a step toward the center of the GOP and away from the bipartisan Gang of Six talks Flake entered into last month. That is a legislative acknowledgment that any bill to protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program must reflect the GOP majorities in Congress and Trump’s presence in the White House to become law.

The legislation will provide Trump’s requested $25 billion in money for a border trust fund, allowing $1.8 billion Continue reading “Flake looks to meet Trump in the middle on immigration”