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Reid Narrows Goals for Immigration This Year

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is pushing a bill aimed at agricultural workers.

“We’ve been talking about it,” the Illinois Democrat said, referring to conversations with Reid. “There’s been no timetable set for calling it up. He is totally in support of it with me. I think his challenge to me is the right one: Do you have the votes? We’re not going to get all the Democratic votes. We need some Republican votes.”

Durbin added: “This has more likelihood of bipartisan support than any aspect of immigration, perhaps, other than AgJOBS. I think AgJOBS has bipartisan support, too.”

Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.), the sole Republican co-sponsor of both the AgJOBS and DREAM bills, said he “would look forward to supporting those two bills” but acknowledged additional Republican support may be scarce.

And Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer, who has been working on his own comprehensive immigration reform bill, indicated both broad and narrow approaches may fall flat, according to the political blog Talking Points Memo.

“We don’t have 60 votes on either comprehensive or the DREAM Act at this point,” the New York Democrat reportedly said.

Indeed, top Republicans largely belittled Reid’s efforts on immigration as little more than pandering to Latino voters in Nevada as part of his own personal re-election strategy.

“It seems like Reid has a different proposal on immigration reform on a weekly, if not daily, basis,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said.

“This is getting to be a joke. No one believes that there is enough time that we could do a responsible job,” said Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The Senate should approach the issue in “a responsible, reasonable way and not just try to play to the peanut gallery and act like we’re going to do something we’re not.”

In the House, Democratic leaders plan to bring emergency border security funding to the floor later this week after the funding was stripped from the war supplemental in the Senate, according to a Democratic aide.

The vote will give the party’s rank-and-file Members something to take home with them in August on the volatile immigration issue and potentially put Republicans in an awkward position if they vote against the funding.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the Illinois Democrat who chairs the Immigration Task Force for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he will continue to press for passage of comprehensive immigration reform instead of “settling” on its components, although he said somewhat sarcastically that he understands why Reid may be pivoting to the DREAM Act.

Reid has “like 10 kids who are going to get arrested in his office” if the DREAM Act does not pass, Gutierrez said. “And he’s got his election in Nevada. I mean put all of this in context.”

Gutierrez also hit President Barack Obama over his failure to follow through with a campaign promise to pass immigration reform during his first year in office.

“The White House has to be almost tickled pink these days. The conversation is no longer is about comprehensive immigration reform and the promise and commitment of Obama and his administration. We’re discussing whether there are 60 votes for the DREAM Act,” Gutierrez said. “It’s almost as though his waiting long enough has frustrated a sufficient number of people to say, ‘We won’t do it.’”

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