Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he thinks there will be no trouble getting the all-important 60 votes for the immigration overhaul.
"I think we have 60 votes. Remember, we start out at 55 Democrats. I think the most I’ll lose is two or three. Let’s say I wind up with 52 Democrats," Reid told the Nevada TV program "To the Point."
"I only need eight Republicans, and I already have four, so that should be pretty easy," the Nevada Democrat said in reference to the four GOP senators in the "gang of eight" that drafted the bill. He may very well pick up the vote of his Republican junior colleague from his home state, Dean Heller, as well.
As reported by the Las Vegas Sun, Reid was asked about the vote-counting during the interview, after Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey told Univision last week that supporters didn't yet have the 60 votes that will no doubt be needed to overcome an anticipated filibuster on the Senate floor.
"I talked about this to a number of my senators today, and what [Menendez] wanted to say is they haven’t done a whip count on this yet,” Reid told "To the Point" as part of a lengthy interview that also included more talk about changing the filibuster rules.
Whenever Reid wants to move on immigration, the bill itself is officially ready to go. Final legislative text of the measure was posted Tuesday, building in the amendments adopted during the Judiciary Committee's extensive markup.
Reid told reporters last week that the immigration overhaul is one of the first items in line after the farm bill that's pending on the Senate floor. The farm policy measure is expected to be finished the week the Senate returns from the Memorial Day break.
The process undertaken by Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., won accolades from both sides of the aisle, even from some quarters opposing the underlying legislation drafted by the bipartisan "gang of eight" senators.
One Republican who doesn't sit on the Judiciary panel who seems inclined to support the final legislation is Heller. In case you missed the Sunday edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Heller had an opinion piece that spoke favorably of the process so far.
"In order for immigration reform legislation to be successful, it must continue through Congress with an open process. These past several weeks, I have been able to work with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and other senators involved in this important bill, and we are finding ways to make this legislation even better," Heller wrote. "I am hopeful that this same pattern of transparency and openness will continue as Members debate the legislation on the Senate floor."