Today, the Republican-controlled Senate failed to change federal immigration law. They were not able to get the minimum of 60 votes necessary to begin debating a measure that would have cut funding to so-called “sanctuary” cities that refuse to cooperate with requests from the Department of Homeland Security to hold illegal immigrants for processing for potential deportation. Sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), the measure failed in a 53-44 vote.
The bill bore the name of Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old woman who was fatally shot in July 2015 allegedly by an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had multiple felony convictions and deportations. Steinle was walking with her father on a San Francisco pier when Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez allegedly shot her to death.
In response, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) asked just before the 55-42 vote along party lines, “How many times does this have to happen?” He added, “At some point, a person needs to go to jail. That’s what Kate’s Law does.”
Democrats strongly opposed the measures. For example, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) claimed that Republicans were putting Donald Trump presumed “ant-immigration rhetoric into action.” Reid said, “These bills follow Trump’s lead in demonizing, criminalizing immigrant, Latino families.”
Afterwards, the White House issued a statement that said, in part, “The bill fails to offer the comprehensive reforms needed to fix the Nation's broken immigration laws and would impose severe and unprecedented mandatory minimum sentences that would undermine the discretion of federal judges to make sure the punishment fits the crime in each case.”
Steinle’s alleged killer, Sánchez, had been in the custody of San Francisco police before the murder and was to be picked up by federal agents. However, San Francisco police declined to cooperate and instead released him. “An entire year later, the problem that prompted Kate’s tragic, untimely death still exists,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Cruz sponsored the Kate's Law bill. July 1 was the one-year anniversary of Steinle’s killing.
“Sanctuary cities and the criminal aliens they harbor are a threat to the safety of the American people,” Cruz said. He continued, saying: “Yet, San Francisco and jurisdictions around the country still shelter illegal aliens, actively thwarting enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) urged passage of the Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Toomey. “The U.S. Senate cannot in good conscience look the other way while certain state and local municipalities decide to blatantly defy or obstruct federal law, putting their residents, and the nation, at greater risk from criminal aliens and potential terrorists,” said FAIR President Dan Stein.
There are more than 300 jurisdictions in the U.S. that defy federal law by harboring illegal aliens. “There are tens of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents who have been victimized by criminal illegal aliens, who are often released onto the streets after committing serious crimes,” said Stein. “Passage of this bill allows the U.S. Senate to finally say, ‘enough is enough,’ and prevents future victims by empowering federal immigration enforcement efforts.”
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump will meet with Republican lawmakers tomorrow, reportedly in an effort to mend fences with the caucus in advance of the GOP national convention this month. He will meet first with House Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and then with Senators at their campaign headquarters. "I look forward to having a frank exchange tomorrow," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told today. "All of us are anxious to win the presidential election." McConnell, however, could not say one way or the other whether he would approve of the provision of classified briefings to Trump in advance of the election.
Several Republican luminaries are offering excuses for their absence tomorrow. Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said they plan on attending committee meetings, while failed presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), said he will preside over the chamber. “But I’m obviously, of all the people in that room, other than Ted Cruz, I’m quite familiar with his positions on a number of issues,” Rubio told the media today.
Others expressing doubts are Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), who removed himself from consideration as Trump’s VP a day after he attended a rally with Trump. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who met with Trump on July 4, told Politico that she is not interested in the job either.
In the House, Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL), a declared Trump foe, is busy tomorrow.
Other Republicans have recently expressed doubts over Trump. Speaker Ryan, for example, rebuked Trump on many occasions during this election cycle. This week, Ryan took Trump to task for one of Trump’s tweets that he labeled “anti-Semitic.” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) endorsed Trump in May, but changed his mind in June. Today, he showed no interest in talking about Trump’s Capitol Hill tour.“I’m not even sure if I’m gonna be there. I’ve got a pretty full schedule,” Issa told The Hill.
Immigration and border security, foreign policy, economics, and jobs are slated to be up for discussion tomorrow. Those who will attend have a laundry list of items they hope Trump will address. This will be the first time Trump will meet with the full House and Senate GOP conferences since he won enough delegates to clinch the party’s nomination.