Menendez defends introduction of immigration reform bill before recess

Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezSenate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Senate close to voting on Mexico ambassador 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 GutierrezRyan meets with Hispanic Caucus to talk Puerto Rico Report: Latino leaders plan Chicago protest against Trump Long lines keep casino workers from Nevada caucuses 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 pressured to take up email privacy bill after overwhelming House vote House unanimously passes email privacy bill This week: Congress on track to miss Puerto Rico deadline 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 CornynFirst US Zika death reported in Puerto Rico Senate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico Overnight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill 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.

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