The Senate Debates Immigration Reform

The Senate Debates Immigration Reform

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will introduce a neutral “shell” bill (one without any immigration provisions) that will be used as the vehicle for the Senate’s debate on immigration. A procedural vote to commence debate will take place the evening of Monday, February 12, 2018. Debate will continue throughout the week, with amendments introduced on both sides, as lawmakers struggle to reach a deal that could get 60 votes. The Senate is scheduled for a week-long recess beginning Monday, February 19, 2018.

Wrap Up from February 12, 2018:

On Monday night, the Senate voted 97-1 to proceed with the neutral “shell” bill to serve as a vehicle for votes on immigration proposals. Read this Politico article for a looks at the chances of any proposal that can clear the 60-vote hurdle that requires bipartisan support.

Transcript from the Senate Floor (February 12, 2018)

Sen. Schumer: Now on to the business of the day. Mr. President, on the heels of passing a significant bipartisan budget deal, the Senate returns this week to grapple with one of the most contentious of issues, immigration. Leader McConnell, to his credit, has promised debate on a neutral bill with amendment process fair to both sides. Democrats and Republicans are working hard to find a bill to protect the Dreamers and provide border security that will garner 60 votes. No easy task. I’m sure we’ll have an opportunity to vote on a few ways to do it, but the key is to find a consensus bill largely acceptable to a significant number members in both parties. The purpose here is not to make a point, as the republican leader just said, that’s easy. The purpose is to get something done. That’s hard, but it really is so important. It won’t be easy, it’s certainly achievable. Democrats are fully committed to protecting dreamers and we have long supported effective border security. Many republicans are in the same boat. The only enemy here is overreach. Now is not the time to place, nor the place, to reform the entire legal immigration system. Rather, this is the moment for a narrow bill and every ounce of our energy is going into finding one that can pass. Just like on the budget, this an opportunity for the Senate to lead the nation. Let the same spirit of bipartisanship and compromise that generated the budget deal carry forward this week as we debate the fate of the dreamers.

Sen. McConnell: Now, on another matter, as I have repeatedly stated, now that there is an agreement on long-term government funding, the senate will proceed to a fair debate over the DACA issue, border security, and other matters pertaining to the subject of immigration. This process begins in just a few hours. we will vote to proceed to an unrelated, neutral house-passed bill that will serve as a vehicle for any legislation that succeeds here in the senate. 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. I hope this body can seize this opportunity and deliver real progress toward securing our border, reforming aspects of immigration policy, and achieving a resolution for individuals who are brought to our country illegal when they were young. The American people have heard no shortage of rhetoric on this issue. They have heard many of my colleagues across the aisle insist this issue requires swift action. Now is the time to back up the talk with the hard work of finding a workable solution. That means finding an agreement that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and which the President will sign. Not just making a point.

A number of my colleagues, Senator Grassley, Cornyn, Tillis, Perdue, Lankford, Cotton, and Ernst will introduce a balanced proposal that tries to meet these requirements. I support the president’s proposal and my colleagues’ legislation to implement it. The Secure and Succeed Act is fair, addresses both sides’ most pressing concerns, conforming to the conditions the president has put forward. It offers a compassionate resolution for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. In exchange, this solution delivers funding for President Trump’s promise to fully secure the border, reforms our approach to extended family chain migration, and reallocates our arbitrary visa lottery into a more sensible merit-based system. This legislation is a fair compromise that addresses the stated priorities of all sides. It’s our best chance to producing a solution that can actually resolve these matters. Which requires that a bill pass the Senate, pass the House, and earn the President’s signature. It has my support. The time for political posturing is behind us. now we have an opportunity to resolve the issues. I hope we make the most of it.