On immigration, senators think bipartisanship will work
Washington – Two authors of the Senate bipartisan agreement on immigration see their work as a hopeful sign of a new wave of bipartisanship in Congress.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York are cautiously optimistic that immigration legislation can be passed. McCain warns that a failure might lead to his party losing Republican-friendly states such as Arizona to Democrats.
In last year’s presidential election, Latinos voted for President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by 71 percent to 27 percent. Latinos made up 10 percent of the electorate.
The shifting electorate has forced the two parties back to the negotiating table on immigration.
“I think the partisanship has reached its peak,” Schumer said.
A day after Obama unveiled his own immigration proposals, the two veteran lawmakers sat down with reporters Wednesday at a hotel near the White House for a breakfast meeting hosted by Politico magazine.
They’re among a group of eight senators, four from each party, who have outlined a plan that includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., but not until after the borders are secure. Other members include Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Richard Durbin of Illinois and Michael Bennet of Colorado.
The breakfast session was a chance for two of the group’s members to repeat the theme of bipartisanship touted at Monday’s news conference in the plan’s unveiling and echoed in the message that Obama offered Tuesday when speaking in Las Vegas about his own immigration proposal.
Significant obstacles to the senators’ plan remain, and McCain acknowledged that many in his party are still split on the issue. It’s up to the group’s leaders to sell their plan to the Republican base, he said. He complimented Rubio, who’s considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate, for broaching the issue with hard-liners, such as conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. #
(c)2013 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by MCT Information Services.