Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he intends to hold a debate over immigration measures, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, before Feb. 8 – but only if the government reopens.
The Kentucky Republican spoke on the Senate floor hours before the chamber was scheduled to vote on a measure that would re-open the federal government.
After senators failed to reach a deal over the weekend, McConnell on Sunday called for a noon Monday vote to advance a bill that would fund the government through Feb. 8.
However, Democrats remained pessimistic about a deal during the third day of the shutdown, as they sought firmer assurances that lawmakers would soon try to restore protections for people who were brought in the U.S. illegally as children.
After the majority leader's speech, Republican Sens. Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham told reporters they were optimistic that a deal was close on several issues. However, Collins, added that it would be "helpful" in swaying Democrats if McConnell's language were firmer on a DACA vote assurance.