Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezBipartisan group, Netflix actress back bill for American Latino Museum The Mideast-focused Senate letter we need to see Taiwan deserves to participate in United Nations 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 GutierrezImmigration activists fear for future of ‘Dreamers’ program House passes 'Kate's Law' and bill targeting sanctuary cities Judiciary Dem asks GOP chairman to invite Trump to testify in public 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 LeahySenate committee ignores Trump, House budgets in favor of 2017 funding levels Live coverage: Trump's FBI nominee questioned by senators AT&T, senators spar over customers' right to sue 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 CornynMcCain returning to Senate in time for health vote Overnight Healthcare: Trump pressures GOP ahead of vote | McConnell urges Senate to start debate | Cornyn floats conference on House, Senate bills | Thune sees progress on Medicaid Cornyn floats conference of House, Senate healthcare bills 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.