WASHINGTON — President Trump’s favored immigration bill failed to move forward in the Senate today with only 39 lawmakers voting to advance Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) legislation on a 60-vote threshold.
Grassley’s bill included the four “pillars” that Trump wanted to see in a bill to save Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries from deportation: a 12-year path to citizenship for certain immigrants brought to the country illegally as youths, funding for the border wall, an end to family reunification except for spouses and minor children, and an end to the diversity lottery visa program.
“I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars – that includes opposing any short-term ‘Band-Aid’ approach,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday night. “The overwhelming majority of American voters support a plan that fulfills the Framework’s four pillars, which move us towards the safe, modern, and lawful immigration system our people deserve.”
Three competing pieces of legislation — which didn’t address family reunification or the visa lottery — also failed to clear the 60-vote hurdle, though all got more than 50 votes.
Three Democrats voted for the Grassley measure favored by Trump: moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
“We worked on the proposal for weeks, meeting every day to work through complicated issues in a constructive way that would have secured the border and solved some difficult immigration issues,” Manchin said in a statement. “I share the president’s commitment to border security. That’s why I voted for his plan. That’s why I fought to ensure the $25 billion he requested for border security was included in the bipartisan deal. That’s why I opposed the Democratic proposal that did not provide a single penny for border security.”
Manchin also touted how he “was the only Democrat to cosponsor a common-sense amendment that would penalize sanctuary cities for flaunting federal immigration laws.”
“Allowing cities to ignore the rule of law sets a dangerous precedent, and worse, these policies prevent us from finding and deporting criminals and convicted felons who are re-entering the country illegally,” the West Virginia Dem added. “I have repeatedly voted for legislation that would withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities and I am disappointed that this amendment failed today.”
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who proposed a bipartisan deal with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) that included the DACA path to citizenship and $25 billion for border security, said afterward that Trump “has repeatedly stated he wants to address the Dreamer population and increase border security and the proposals I supported today would have done exactly that.”
“I’m dissapointed we were not able to find a solution this week but that does not mean our work is over,” he said. “I’ll continue to work with Senator Bennet and my other colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a solution that can pass the Senate, the House, and ultimately be signed by the president.”
Grassley had warned his colleagues before the vote that Trump would not sign any bill that didn’t include all four of his plan’s provisions.
“Some may not like it but REALITY is that Grassley/Cornyn is only DACA fix that can pass Senate+House+Trump. DREAMERS can help by telling Dems to get on board, stop wasting time & ACTUALLY SUPPORT A BILL THAT CAN BE SIGNED INTO LAW. Let’s deliver certainty that DACA kids deserve,” the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman tweeted Wednesday.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after the votes that it had been “a disappointing week,” calling the failed Grassley bill, which was rejected by 14 members of his own party, “more than a fair bargain.”
“I thought my friends across the aisle would jump at this opportunity to fulfill what they say is their top priority. But they just could not take ‘yes’ for an answer. They turned away from a golden opportunity to solve this issue. They decided they’d rather come away empty handed, with no resolution whatsoever for the 1.8 million individuals they say they are championing, than accept a reasonable compromise with the president,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
“Now, even though this week has been squandered, this does not have to be the end of our efforts to resolve these matters. I encourage members to put away the talking points and get serious about finding a solution that can actually become law. I remain eager to improve our immigration policy,” he added. “If a solution is developed in the future that can pass both the House and the Senate and be signed into law by the president, it should be considered. But for that to happen, Democrats will need to take a second look at these core elements of necessary reform.”
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who co-sponsored a compromise bill with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), called his plan “a significant improvement from the status quo and likely the only framework capable of passing the Senate so that we can actually move the ball forward on comprehensive border security and immigration reform.”
“Ultimately, our bill was not able to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. This is disappointing because opening debate on our bill would have allowed us to continue the dialogue as we seek to keep our borders safe and reform our immigration system to one that is merit-based,” he said.
“The two issues of DACA and the president’s campaign promise to fund a border wall system still linger. When Congress returns to session toward the end of the month, I will continue to work with my colleagues to get results on pragmatic reforms to our border security and immigration systems, using our bill as the base, or another one if it can accomplish the same thing.”