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Republicans moving forward with Trump’s immigration framework

President Donald Trump makes an announcement on immigration with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Aug 2. On Sunday, Cotton said his immigration proposal is sponsor “the only bill that has a chance of becoming law.” | Zach Gibson – Pool/Getty Images

President Trump’s immigration framework will likely get a vote during during the Senate’s wide-ranging immigration debate this month, though it probably won’t become law without major alterations that could bring Democratic support.

Nonetheless, a group of Republican senators on Sunday evening announced their intention to offer the president’s framework as legislation during the immigration debate. The proposal would offer a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million young immigrants eligible for the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, in return for $ 25 billion in border security and wall money as well as cuts to family based-immigration.

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Democrats and some Republicans oppose the Trump plan’s cuts to legal immigration, likely dooming the effort in the narrowly divided Senate, where legislation generally requires 60 votes to advance. Still, sponsor Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said, “This is the only bill that has a chance of becoming law.”

“By addressing our border security needs and limiting family sponsorship to the nuclear family, it goes far beyond the other half measures that have been proposed. This bill is generous, humane, and responsible, and now we should send it to the president’s desk,” Cotton said Sunday.

The bill is also sponsored by GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa, John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, David Perdue of Georgia, and James Lankford of Oklahoma.

Tillis, Cornyn and Lankford all have been involved in talks with Democrats in recent months, though none of those talks have been particularly fruitful. Senate Majority Whip Cornyn, in particular, has been locked in a bipartisan stalemate with Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and the No. 2 House leaders.

In an interview last week, Cornyn called Trump’s proposal a “generous offer” but acknowledged that his party will have to compromise.

“If the president supports it, that says a lot about Republicans’ willingness to support an immigration bill,” Cornyn said. “And particularly one that has the border security and other immigration reforms that are important to Republicans.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is preparing to launch the Senate into a free-ranging immigration debate Monday, and groups of senators are racing to finish their proposals.

In addition to Trump’s, a bipartisan group of senators believes it is close to clinching an immigration plan that has significant support in both parties. Also, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), is preparing a three-year extension of the DACA program in return for some border money as a fallback plan. Democrats are also likely to offer a partisan plan, and senators may offer a proposal mirroring the 2013 Gang of Eight bill that passed the Senate in 2013.

And though Trump’s plan is likely to fail when it gets a vote due to opposition from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). it will still be a closely watched vote. Ten Senate Democrats are up for reelection in states Trump won in 2016, and a vote on the president’s plan will be viewed as a referendum for those Democrats’ support of the president.

For Republicans, it may be something of a unity exercise alongside the president.

“There’s a lot of interest in our caucus on the president’s proposal, because it’s leaning pretty forward on where our guys have been on a path to citizenship,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a GOP leader. “But it also gets a lot of components that our folks would like to see addressed.”

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