Rubio votes against bipartisan immigration bill; Nelson votes for it

The bill failed.
A 'Dreamer' at a rally in Dallas. (Associated Press)
A 'Dreamer' at a rally in Dallas. (Associated Press)
Published Feb. 15, 2018|Updated Feb. 16, 2018

WASHINGTON – Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson were on opposite sides of a bipartisan immigration bill that died Thursday afternoon amid a veto threat from the White House.

Rubio, who helped write the 2013 bipartisan immigration overhaul, voted against the bill, while earlier indicated he could be supportive. Nelson voted for the measure.

It would have provided 1.8 million Dreamers a chance for citizenship plus budgeted $25 billion for a border wall.

The bill was crafted by moderate Republicans and Democrats billing themselves as the "Common Sense Coalition." They described the proposal as having the most bipartisan support in the Senate, but it came under fire from the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

The vote was 54-45, six votes short of the 60 needed to advance.

The moderates' measure does not alter a lottery that distributes about 55,000 visas annually to people from diverse countries. Trump has proposed ending it and redistributing its visas to other immigrants.

The group spent weeks trying to craft a middle ground on the thorny immigration issue.

The defeat casts serious doubt about a solution for the Dreamer issue, though courts have intervened.

Rubio, who has not been a central player in the negotiations over legislation, issued this statement:

"Every amendment before the Senate today failed to pass because, as I have said since our effort in 2013, the more an immigration proposal tries to do at once, the less likely it is to succeed.

"I voted for Senator Grassley's plan because it best represented principles I have and continue to support, including provisions to address young people brought illegally to this country through no fault of their own and strengthen border security and enforcement.

"I strongly considered supporting the Rounds-Collins plan. But I did not support it because it expanded the population of those eligible for protection to include people not covered by or eligible for DACA without providing sufficient border security and enforcement measures.

"In the meantime, I intend to keep working with other Senators on a more limited proposal that would permanently codify DACA's renewable permits and provide meaningful border security and enforcement measures in the event a House-passed bill cannot pass the Senate and we are left without a broader solution."

Rubio then voted for the Trump favored plan, which got the fewest supporters. Nelson and most Democrats were against that.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.