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“We’ve got the hall,” he said of the chamber. “We’ve got the people,” he said of his colleagues. “We just can’t get them to debate,” he said of the Democrats. “I’m just sort of at a loss.”

Democrats said that Republicans led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky were determined to lure them into votes on issues beyond efforts to protect 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought into the United States as children — the “Dreamers” who are the top priority for Democrats.

Mr. McConnell’s first offer was to call a vote on a Republican plan to punish so-called sanctuary cities — jurisdictions where local agencies do not cooperate with federal immigration officials in rounding up undocumented immigrants. That issue could be a political problem for those Democrats up for re-election in conservative states.

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Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, left, the Democratic leader, and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois on Wednesday.



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