After several weeks of negotiations for a bipartisan deal on immigration, the Senate ended its debate yesterday exactly where it began, in a stalemate. The rejection of four proposals in the Senate yesterday, along with a lack of consensus in the House indicates the political pressure on both the Republicans and the Democrats regarding immigration reform. The impasse over immigration issues led to a short-term government shutdown last month.

Earlier in the week, President Trump had signaled his support only for the GOP legislation based off White House text. The 592-page bill, from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), would have provided a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants and nearly $100 billion of new funding for immigration reform, including $25 billion for border security measures, and end a diversity lottery system used by immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. “I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill,” Trump said Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, the bill’s lead sponsor Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) said the “The Secure and Succeed Act” is the only piece of legislation that can get through the Senate, through the House of Representatives and, most importantly signed by the president.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also backed the GOP plan.

However, the Republican-lead Senate blocked the immigration plan that President Trump was backing. The bill received just 39 votes, including 14 Republicans, well short of the 60 votes needed to move ahead.  The vote indicated the division within GOP ranks with some Senators concerned that granting legal status to the undocumented “dreamers” could be seen as amnesty.

Proposals had been floated by senators in both parties to temporarily extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that is set to end on March 5 as well as provide some funding for border-security construction projects.

However, a second federal judge ruled the president cannot end DACA as planned on March 5. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in New York said Trump did not give a legally adequate reason for ending the program. The ruling reinforces a previous court order that the president must allow current DACA recipients to reapply. It does not affect those eligible for the program who never enrolled. Courts in California and New York that have issued these injunctions requiring the administration to extend DACA could render Trump’s deadline moot.

A bipartisan group of senators, self-described as  the “Common Sense Caucus,” proposed  another immigration deal  on Wednesday. They then circulated the legislation, which fulfilled President Trump’s call to grant legal immigration status to 1.8  million “dreamers.”  The deal also appropriated $25 billion to bolster defenses along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as border security construction projects over the next decade.  However, the bill allocated those funds over ten years instead of up front.  That bipartisan agreement was also rejected 54-45 with most Republicans voting against it after a White House campaign to defeat it, including a veto threat from the White House.

Senators also rejected a bipartisan plan by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and John McCain (R-AZ) that would grant legal status to dreamers and pay for border security construction but not the full $25 billion immediately as the president requested.  The plan failed 52 to 47, including just three Republicans, short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

Finally, Senators also voted on a plan by Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) that would shield municipalities from any legal liability for helping detain immigration offenders but also punish local governments that refuse to help enforce federal immigration laws.  That bill failed 54 to 45.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reportedly indicated to White House officials that there is little appetite in his conference for continuing an immigration fight and it appears the White House is inclined to agree. McConnell has also said that any bill he could pass in the Senate would be unlikely to earn the president’s support.

Attention is likely to shift to the House, which could take up the issue after next week’s Presidents’ Day recess. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has been gauging support for a House Bill that is much more restrictive than Trump’s proposal, told reporters that the White House Plan “should be the framework through which we come together to find a solution.”