WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has set the stage for the upper chamber to next week begin consideration of legislation protecting the more than 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from deportation.
“The bill I move to, which will not have underlying immigration text, will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset,” McConnell said in a floor speech early Friday morning after the upper chamber voted to end an overnight government shutdown.
McConnell’s action sets up a Monday evening procedural vote and is consistent with an agreement made last month with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that the upper chamber would consider DACA proposals during the month of February as long as the government remained open.
The program expires on March 5.
McConnell has said the Senate will vote on any proposal that garners 60 votes.
On Monday, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced that they intend to introduce legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients as well as allocate funds for enhanced border security measures.
The White House has rejected the measure as it does not conform with the Trump administration’s immigration reform framework proposal. The administration has said that any DACA deal must include $25 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and put an end to both the diversity lottery and chain migration.
A vote on the bill is nevertheless expected.
The McCain-Coons proposal complements a House bill that was introduced last month. The legislation is somewhat similar to a proposal by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that also was recently rejected by the White House.
House Republican leaders and the administration have expressed support for a hard-line immigration bill introduced last month by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).