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7 lawmakers to watch as immigration debate resumes

Emma Dumain, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Congress will return this week to the political cauldron of immigration policy, and almost every member will claim to be a player.

But realistically, if a deal is reached to protect nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation, only a few will be able to claim credit.

They represent a range of roles on Capitol Hill: establishment insiders, veteran dealmakers, consensus-builders and unrelenting agitators.

Those members of Congress are hoping to make a deal before Thursday, when much of the government could shut down again.

Democrats want an assurance that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will be preserved as a condition of voting to maintain government funding.

Republicans want a deal, too, to avoid another shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised that after the Thursday deadline for avoiding that, he would allow an open debate on the Senate floor on immigration proposals. That will force the Senate to take controversial votes, likely resulting in legislation that might not have enough conservative support to survive in the House or be signed by President Donald Trump.

 

Chances are, lawmakers won't agree on an immigration bill in time to beat the March 5 deadline that Trump set to end the DACA program once and for all.

Here are seven lawmakers to watch as the debate unfolds:

–– Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The White House panned the immigration proposal Graham promoted with Senate Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, which included a path to citizenship for DACA beneficiaries.

But their framework is still being used as a starting point for the nearly 36 senators from both parties who showed up for a meeting Graham convened after the Senate vote to reopen government last month after a three-day shutdown. They have since been meeting nearly every legislative workday to come up with a new framework.

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