Senate Democrats blocked legislation Wednesday aimed at boosting the scrutiny of some incoming refugees, after attempting to turn the debate into a referendum on immigration and Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

The Senate voted 55-43 to advance the measure, and fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance it to a final vote, leaving it effectively dead in the upper chamber. Democrats voted against the bill even though late last year it passed with a veto-proof, bipartisan majority in the House.

Democrats moved to dodge a politically difficult vote by shifting the spotlight to the Republican front-runner, who has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country in response to recent terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe.

"Republican leaders have pledged loyalty to Donald Trump and his disgraceful policies," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "As a front-runner for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump and his proposals are leading the public debate in this country. Republicans should be prepared for the next logical step, voting on his vision for America."

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