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“Myself, Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham all came away encouraged by it,” Flake said. “It’s a different atmosphere than it was a couple of years ago [during the last overhaul effort], obviously there are people with strong opinions but there is a willingness to get this done that we didn’t see before.”
Asked if he envisions the Republican-led House voting for a path to citizenship Flake said, “Yeah, I do. A majority, I am not saying what the mix will be, but yeah, I think we can get it through. This isn’t just an exercise ... we want to pass a bill.”
Graham said he too believes that Bush remains open to the idea of a path to citizenship.
“I don’t see how you can do a bill in the Senate without a pathway to citizenship,” Graham said.
“The key for me is you can’t get into line and become a citizen ahead of those that are doing it correctly and you have to get right with the law before you can move forward and it’s going to be long, hard journey,” he continued. “I think [Bush] was open to a pathway to citizenship that he thought wouldn’t be a magnet. I would say legal status is just as much of a magnet as any long hard road to citizenship.”
McCain and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also said they weren’t discouraged by Bush’s comments.
“I respect and admire him greatly,” McCain said Tuesday. “As I’ve said before ... the process that we are going through is that once the border is secure then we will give people a path to citizenship.”