McConnell: Draft Your Immigration Proposals; 'Whoever Gets to 60, Wins'

Susan Jones | February 7, 2018 | 5:06am EST
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (Photo: C-SPAN)

( - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a news conference Tuesday he's had numerous discussions about immigration reform, and now it's time for senators to put those plans on paper:

On the immigration issue, there are a lot of different groups as you know some of them bipartisan, some of them Republicans only, discussing the way forward. So, I would simply repeat what I've said: Once we have established that the government is going to be open, which needs to happen by February the 8th, we'll then go forward with an immigration debate.

And I'm going to structure it in such a way that's fair to everyone. And in the Senate, on those rare occasions when we have these open debates, whoever gets to 60, wins. And it will be an opportunity for 1,000 flowers to bloom.

Laughter greeted the latter comment.

A reporter asked McConnell how he'll decide which proposal should come up for a vote first:

"Well I -- I've said to all of the folks who say they have a proposal, it'd be a good idea to draft it. Been a lot of discussions, but in a few days, we'll need to have actual proposals that we get offered. Beyond that, I am -- I'm not trying to tilt the playing field in any particular direction.

"But I've said to those who are working on proposals, you need to get them drafted, because you can't offer them if they're not drafted. And I'm hoping that everybody understands there's a good chance by February the 8th it'll be time to go forward.

"And beyond that, I can't be specific because there's no secret plan here to -- to try to push this in any direction. And the Senate's going to work its will. And I -- I hope that we will end up passing something. I'd rather deal with the issue."

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says he will not bring up any plan that the president will not sign.

McConnell told reporters he's wants to get a result: "The administration has a proposal," he noted. "I think the president was very generous, given his history with this particular issue, to come out for a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers.

"I'm honestly shocked that the other side didn't say sign me up. I think that indicates he'd like to get an outcome, and we just don't know where 60 votes are for any particular proposal, and so we're going to find out."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told a news conference on Tuesday that McConnell has promised an "open process," meaning amendments are welcome, on an immigration bill next week: "I would encourage everybody to talk to everybody," Schumer said. "And, what we're going to try to do is find a proposal, the bipartisan group, great example of that, that can pass the Senate with 60 votes."

Schumer added that "nobody" wants another government shutdown, except maybe President Donald Trump, who seemed to endorse a shutdown on Tuesday if no agreement is reached on immigration.

"I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of," Trump said.

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