Remember that big, amendment-laden debate the Senate was preparing for as the world’s greatest deliberative body began to grapple with what to do about the nation’s broken immigration system?
The actual debate over a series of proposals – a conservative one, a compromise one – lasted less than a day. Actually, less than an afternoon.
No proposal was able to get the 60 votes required to end debate.
“I don’t see it,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican, said of the possibility of the Senate taking up immigration again. “We couldn’t get it together this week. We’ve got other things we have to do, which are pressing.”
So that’s it.
“I’m sorry, I’m out of breath,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, said after the vote. “I’m exhausted from that 13-minute debate we had on immigration.”
The truth of the matter is that the bipartisan attempt to thread the needle between Trump’s demand for $25 billion in border wall funding and Democrats’ desire to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was doomed hours after it was revealed Wednesday night.
The White House made clear it actively opposed the deal and threw its support behind the more conservative option offered by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) that largely mirrored Trump’s own plan. (That legislation got only 39 votes; 11 Republicans didn’t vote for it.)
There are simply not 60 votes for ANY sort of immigration proposals. Conservatives won’t vote for something that they believe offers a pathway to citizenship for broad swaths of people brought to the country illegally. Liberals have zero interest in voting for a bill that allocates massive amounts of money for a border wall that they believe won’t accomplish much of anything.
Which means any attempt to reform the immigration system in the country will require a creative new approach that, candidly, no one seems to have.
“I don’t know where we go from here,” acknowledged South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the leading advocates for immigration reform, after Thursday’s failure.
The Point: Finding any sort of large-scale compromise solution on immigration is almost certainly dead. A DACA fix or some other small-bore changes might still happen. But anything close to comprehensive reform will have to wait until at least 2019. And likely longer.