Immigration reform won't happen in the next few weeks, and could take some time to assemble, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said Wednesday.
Kerry, a senior member of the Senate who's helped take the lead on another Senate priority, energy and climate legislation, said it would take longer than the next few weeks to get an immigration bill that could win overwhelming bipartisan support.
"I think that it's a priority. We have to deal with it. But we ought to try to deal with it in a way that really does attract bipartisan, comprehensive efforts," Kerry said during an appearance on "Imus in the Morning" on the Fox Business Network. "And I don't think that's going to happen in the next few weeks."
Kerry has been working with Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on an energy and climate bill, a piece of legislation which was almost thrown off-track when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he might move immigration first.
Senators are in Washington until just before Memorial Day, when they will take a recess before returning for a summer session. Those sessions are typically not as productive in the run-ups to elections like this fall's.
Graham threatened to pull support for the energy bill after Reid's move, forcing the top Democrat to back off plans to move on immigration, reasoning that the bill wasn't ready.
Kerry said he'd like to see a bill that could win as many as 95 votes, a tally which would seem almost unprecedented in the Senate over the past two years on major legislative issues.
"I think it's going to take a little time to work it through, and get it ready for the action that it fully deserves," the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee said. "The best way to do it is not with 51 votes, not with 60 votes -- it's to get 85, 90, 95 votes in the Senate for a sensible policy for the country."