And They’re Off! Senate Finally Votes to Proceed on Immigration

Votes on amendments expected soon

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had some harsh words for his Democratic colleagues before the chamber approved the motion to proceed to immigration legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After two days of the equivalent of a legislative staring contest, the Senate has decided to move along toward immigration legislation. But this is just the beginning, and feelings are a little raw over how things have unfolded so far. 

The chamber approved, by voice vote Wednesday morning, a motion to proceed to the expected legislative vehicle for an immigration overhaul. 

“The Senate was open for nine hours yesterday alone, nine hours. Nine hours we could have spent processing amendments and proceeding to votes. Nine hours down the drain because Democrats won’t let us start the debate they spent months demanding. Now that we can finally proceed to consider the underlying bill this morning, I hope my colleagues across the aisle will come to the table,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the voice vote. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer followed up with his own leadership time remarks. “Everyone has to make a final effort to reach consensus. That doesn’t mean adding new demands or drawing lines in the sand. It means being willing to compromise and take yes for an answer,” the New York Democrat said.

Watch: Senate Leaders Open Immigration Debate With Dispute Over How to Start

The chamber set in motion votes on four amendments: 

  • One by Iowa Republican Charles E. Grassley, which is the only plan that has garnered the full-throated support of President Donald Trump.
  • One by Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey related to sanctuary cities.
  • One by Schumer, which would basically sub out Grassley’s amendment.
  • And a bipartisan measure by Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and Arizona Republican John McCain

For those keeping score at home, this is how the Senate Cloakroom sees it playing out: 

Watch: Senate Leaders Discuss Immigration Debate Progress So Far

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.