McConnell: Immigration bill needs 'major changes'

Later Tuesday, the Senate will vote on whether to proceed to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

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The bipartisan group of eight senators, known as the Gang of Eight, introduced S. 744, which would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.

Some Republicans argue that the legislation would provide amnesty for the nearly 11 million residents in the country illegally without strengthening border enforcement. 

McConnell said more work needed to be done on at least three aspects of the bill: border security, government benefits and taxes.

“I’ll vote to debate it and for the opportunity to amend it, but in the days ahead, there will need to be major changes to this bill if it’s going to become law,” McConnell said. “These include, but are not limited to, the areas of border security, government benefits and taxes.”

Republicans have expressed concern that illegal immigrants waiting for legal status would have access to government benefits, such as ObamaCare and welfare.

McConnell said immigration reform is one of the many large issues facing the country and that the Senate should not delay action.

“Let me be clear: doing nothing about a problem we all acknowledge isn’t a solution. It’s an avoidance strategy,” McConnell said. “And the longer we wait to have this debate, as difficult as it is, the harder it’ll be to solve the problem.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSatanists balk at Cruz comparison Cory Booker is Clinton secret weapon Overnight Energy: Dems block energy spending bill for second day MORE (D-Nev.) said he was “glad the minority leader recognizes that our immigration system is broken.” He said the Gang of Eight bill was a fair solution that would be good for national security and the economy.

The Gang of Eight is comprised of Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioCruz wins bulk of delegate spots at Va. convention Trump seeks approval from foreign policy experts, but hits snags Many Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report MORE (R-Fla.), John McCainJohn McCainExperts warn weapons gap is shrinking between US, Russia and China McCain delivers his own foreign policy speech Republicans who vow to never back Trump MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSunday shows preview: Cruz pulls out all the stops ahead of Indiana Many Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report Graham: Iran ‘giving Obama the diplomatic finger’ MORE (R-S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeMany Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report Senate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico McCain fundraiser faces felony drug charges in Arizona MORE (R-Ariz.), Charles SchumerCharles SchumerCruz's dad: Trump 'would be worse than Hillary Clinton' With Ryan’s blessing, lawmakers press ahead with tax reform talks Big business will never appease the Left MORE (D-N.Y.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinElizabeth Warren stumps, raises funds for Duckworth Senators roll out changes to criminal justice bill Let the Democratic veepstakes begin MORE (D-Ill.), 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.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetGOP Senate candidate wins right to be on Colorado ballot EPA ozone rule looms large in swing state 2 Colorado Senate candidates fail to qualify for ballot MORE (D-Colo.).

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