Immigration Debate Sputters at the Starting Line

Updated 6:13 p.m. | The Senate kicked off its long-awaited immigration debate Tuesday not with the flurry of bipartisan cooperation that some lawmakers had hoped for, but with a thud.

Before a single vote was cast to amend the shell bill serving as the vehicle for a potential deal, leaders of both parties were at an impasse over how to structure the debate, which is aimed at reaching a compromise to protect 690,000 “Dreamers” from deportation and meeting President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement and border security goals.

In the Senate, process is just as important as substance at this stage since the chamber operates on unanimous consent.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed around noon Tuesday to hold votes later in the day, one on an amendment by Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey that would target so-called sanctuary cities, and another on an amendment of the Democrats’ choosing.

“With their consent, we can start the debate,” McConnell said.

But Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer objected…

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