A bipartisan group of six senators is expected to release an outline for an immigration overhaul next week, at the same time that President Barack Obama will begin his own public push on the issue.
The senators have been working since November, after the 2012 elections, to come up with a set of principles that would be the foundation for a bill. They have set an internal deadline to unveil their principles by Feb. 1, Congressional sources said.
Durbin, the Senate majority whip who has long pushed for passage of legislation that would provide the children of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, said Thursday that the group was well on its way to the finish line, but he said more work was needed.
“We’re making progress, and we still have a long way to go.” Durbin said. “Everything so far has been extremely positive.”
“There is a much different mood on the Republican side,” the Illinois Democrat continued, citing the difference Latino voters in swing states made for Democrats in the most recent elections. “If you’re a student of history, you know exactly what’s happening here. You know, new groups to America are not taken seriously until they have political clout.”
Durbin noted that Hispanics in Colorado voted 85 percent for Obama.
“We have a basic agreement on many of the core principles. Now we have to draft it, and that really is — it takes time,” he said.
Durbin said White House has been monitoring the bipartisan negotiations between the senators.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., whose panel has jurisdiction over the issue, said he expects to hold hearings soon. But he said he wants to be sure he hears from everyone interested in reform — including the president — in order to develop a bipartisan measure with the best chances of becoming law.
“I want to make sure they are all heard,” Leahy stressed.
“I think [the hearings] will be fairly soon because I sense a movement between both Republicans and Democrats that we’ve go to do something on immigration and I am not sure that will be here in an election year, so let’s do it now,” Leahy continued. Though the hearings will likely take place at the full committee level, Schumer is the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.