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.


AILA Response to Senate Failure:

Senate Bipartisan Efforts to Save Dreamers Destroyed by Veto Threat

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  • .@AILANational: Senate Bipartisan Efforts to Save #Dreamers Destroyed by Veto Threat http://ow.ly/hcq230is0MY #AILAStandsWithDreamers
  • .@APEsq: Once again, the Trump administration resorted to divisive politics, ignoring the fact that nearly 90% of Americans support legal status for #Dreamers. http://ow.ly/hcq230is0MY #AILAStandsWithDreamers
  • Yesterday's Senate votes were a disappointment. But as @AILAExecDir says, it's more clear than ever that the only path forward is a narrow deal that #ProtectsDreamers. http://ow.ly/hcq230is0MY #AILAStandsWithDreamers

AILA Quicktake #234: Senate Fails to Pass Immigration Legislation

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  • .@GregChenAILA explains how the White House's veto threat undermined the Senate's bipartisan efforts to #ProtectDreamers http://ow.ly/arwP30is11K #AILAStandsWithDreamers
  • The Senate failed to pass protections for #Dreamers last night. @GregChenAILA breaks down the votes and takes a look at what comes next. http://ow.ly/arwP30is11K #AILAStandsWithDreamers

February 15, 2018 (4:20 pm):

Senate voting on the four amendments to H.R. 2579 ended at approximately 4:10 PM. All four amendments were rejected, as the Senate failed to get to 60 votes on any of the proposals. Final vote tallies are as follows:

  • Dream/Border (Coons-McCain, SA 1955): 52-47 (in favor)
  • Sanctuary Cities (Toomey, SA 1948): 54-45 (in favor)
  • Dream/Border (Rounds-King, SA 1958): 54-45 (in favor)
  • Secure and Succeed Act (Grassley, SA 1959): 40-59 (against)

February 15, 2018 (2:05 pm):

The Senate is set to vote on the four amendments at 2:30 PM today.


AILA Vote Recommendations:


One Pagers on Amendments:


Government Announcements:


February 15, 2018 (PM):

The Senate is tentatively set to vote on the following four amendments to H.R. 2579 at 1:45 pm (ET) today (though this is subject to change): Secure and Succeed Act (Grassley, SA 1959); Sanctuary Cities (Toomey, SA 1948); Dream/Border (Rounds-King, SA 1958); and Dream/Border (Coons-McCain, SA 1955)


February 15, 2018 (AM):

The Senate debate adjourned last night at 7:37 pm (ET) with no votes taken. Debate resumed this morning at 10:00 am. Votes on offered amendments could commence as early as this afternoon, though exact timing remains uncertain.


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  • It's time once again to let our voices be heard and take action. @AILANational member @MoGoldman shares how you can urge Congress to #ProtectDreamers http://ow.ly/Iu9G30ioYdA #AILAStandsWithImmigrants
  • .@MoGoldman reminds us: When you see a bad amendment getting lifted up in the Senate #immigration debate this week, do not sit quietly. #AILAStandsWithImmigrants http://ow.ly/Iu9G30ioYdA
  • Trying to keep up with what's happening on #immigration in the Senate this week? @MoGoldman sets the stage on the @AILANational blog and reminds us to let our voices be heard. We must urge Congress to #ProtectDreamers. http://ow.ly/Iu9G30ioYdA

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Update from February 14, 2018 (AM):

The Senate conversation on immigration policy resumed this morning after a largely uneventful day yesterday, where Senate leaders were unable to agree on overall process. This morning, the Senate adopted the motion to proceed on the shell bill (H.R. 2579) which will serve as the vehicle for an immigration bill. The following amendments were offered: SA 1959: A substitute amendment that mirrors the White House plan; SA 1948: A Sanctuary Cities amendment to SA 1959; SA 1958: A Dream/Border bill; and SA 1955: a Dream/Border amendment to SA 1958.


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. nNw we have an opportunity to resolve the issues. I hope we make the most of it.