The Slatest

Senate Rejects All of Its Immigration Bills

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Senate rejected four immigration bills in quick succession on Thursday afternoon, including a bipartisan compromise, and a more conservative plan proposed by President Trump. The four procedural votes were the culmination of what was supposed to have been a freewheeling, week-long debate in the Senate over the fate of Dreamers and a beefed-up plan for border security. But that debate devolved quickly into partisan bickering, and it’s unclear what the path forward is now, or if there is one.

The first bill, a narrow, bipartisan proposal to provide legal status for Dreamers and authorize certain border security measures, was co-sponsored by Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and Arizona Sen. John McCain. It failed 52 to 47. All measures needed 60 votes to advance.

The second, a red-meat and somewhat tangential proposal from Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey to cut off funding for “sanctuary cities,” failed 54–45. Democrats up for re-election hadn’t been looking forward to this vote, and several voted for it.

The third, a bipartisan bill put forward by the “common sense coalition,” was fiercely opposed by the Trump administration, which deployed every weapon in its arsenal to prevent it from reaching 60 votes. The bill, which would have offered a path to citizenship for Dreamers, authorized $25 billion in border security, and prevented Dreamers from sponsoring their parents, failed 54–45. Once it was clear that not enough Republicans would support it, both New Mexico Democrats, Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, voted against it, as did California Sen. Kamala Harris.

But the failure of that compromise didn’t help the White House with its own preferred bill. That one, sponsored by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, also would have offered a path to citizenship and authorized billions in wall spending. But it would have eliminated the diversity lottery and made sharp cuts to legal immigration, too, making it a nonstarter for most Democrats. The White House bill did the worst of the four, with just 39 votes in favor and 60 opposed.

The Senate goes on recess next week.

If you’re looking for someone to blame, the guy who ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and then did everything in his power to block the bill with the best chance of fixing the problem is a good place both to start and finish.

Jim Newell is a Slate staff writer.