Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Judge declares mistrial in Menendez bribery case Menendez jury deadlocked, ordered to keep trying MORE (D-N.J.) defended his introduction of an immigration bill just before leaving for the campaign recess as either an opportunity for lawmakers to take up the legislation either in the lame-duck session or in the next Congress.

Menendez, who along with Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Luis GutierrezLuis Vicente GutierrezWe are running out of time to protect Dreamers GutiƩrrez makes moves toward presidential run: report GutiƩrrez leaving Congress, rules out bid for mayor, governor MORE (D-Ill.) met with President Obama last month to press immigration reform, introduced a bill (S.3932) on Wednesday with co-sponsor Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign America isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Your tax dollars fund Afghan child rape MORE (D-Vt.).

Menendez was asked Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" about the timing of introducing such legislation, and said it was important to have a bill on the table in case of any eventuality.

"If we're going to have any opportunity to consider the possiblity of lame-duck movement on it," he said, noting that retiring members may be more willing to push for it, "you need something to jump off from."

"If next Congress you need something as foundation," the bill will be there, Menendez said, adding that the legislation also served as an "invitation to bring Republican colleagues to discussion" on immigration reform.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines MORE (R-Texas), appearing along with Menendez on the program, said the timing of the bill's introduction was bad.

"It's a much too important issue to be treated as a political football," Cornyn said.