Rand Paul says he’s key to uniting Senate, House on immigration

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Sunday that his Senate colleagues would have to go through him in order to win support from the House to successfully pass comprehensive immigration reform.

“What they have in the Senate has zero chance of passing in the House,” Paul said on Fox News Sunday. “I’m really trying to make immigration work.”

The libertarian senator has said he wants to bolster border security measures, a rallying cry for many Republicans.

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“I am the conduit between conservatives in the House who don’t want a lot of these things and more moderate people in the Senate who do want these things,” he said. “They’re going to have to come to me and they’re going to have to work with me to make the bill stronger if they want me to vote for it.”

The Senate will begin voting on the bipartisan proposal drafted by the Gang of Eight this week. The plan creates a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country and would tighten border security as well as institute new guest and high-tech worker visa programs.

But many Republicans say the path to citizenship amounts to amnesty and are pushing amendments for tougher border security provisions. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who helped draft the bill and a key figure for winning conservative support said last week he would not vote for the legislation without changes to the border security provisions. 

Many Republicans agree that comprehensive reform of the immigration system is necessary, with both Paul and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Sunday saying they believed Congress could be successful in passing it.

“We have to fix this system because it’s not good for anybody. Hopeful we can pass a bill,” Johnson said in a later segment on the Fox program.

Johnson said he agreed with Paul that changes to border security would need to be made before the Senate version could be sold to House conservatives. 

“Doesn’t do anybody any good to only pass it in the Senate,” Johnson said.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) says the House will not accept the Senate bill, leaving immigration reform advocates hoping for a counterpart bipartisan House deal.

If a bipartisan House bill fails to muster support, GOP leaders have said they would push immigration reform through a series of individual piecemeal bills.