House Dems pressure Sen. Reid to act on immigration reform

Democrats held the press conference to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidObama’s November surprise This week: Shutdown deadline looms over Congress Week ahead: Spending fight shifts from Zika to Flint MORE (D-Nev.) into action, but they were careful not to criticize the leader.

“The Senate has a responsibility to lead; the Democrats have a majority,” Rep. Luis GutierrezLuis GutierrezThe Hill's 12:30 Report Election watchdog scrutinizing Florida Dem Senate candidate Juan Williams: Dems should not take Latinos for granted MORE (D-Ill.) said. "It's time for them to make their proposal clear."

ADVERTISEMENT
Several lawmakers did take aim at Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamConservative group presses GOP to vote against spending bill Week ahead: Funding fight dominates Congress Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas MORE (R-S.C.), who had been negotiating an immigration proposal with Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSaudis hire lobbyists amid 9/11 fight Consumer bureau remains partisan target after Wells Fargo settlement Overnight Healthcare: Planned Parenthood deal in sight in Senate | A new 'public option' push MORE (D-N.Y.) but said that the effort would be considered dead on arrival if the borders are not secured.

"This comprehensive immigration reform must move forward,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson-LeeDems hijack IRS hearing to ask about Trump’s taxes The Hill's 12:30 Report Why a new 'app' would be essential to public education in the fight against Zika MORE (D-Texas), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus’s immigration task force. “We will not be intimidated by a senator from a Southern state or elsewhere."

Graham, who is also a top negotiator on the Senate’s climate change bill, has threatened to withdraw his support for that legislation if immigration moves first.

Speaking about Graham, Jackson Lee said, “ I will say to him, 'So what? We are not intimidated by you.' ”

Lee compared efforts to block the bill to the so-called “Dixiecrats,” segregationist Southern Democrats who were opposed to getting rid of Jim Crow laws.

Many Democrats want the immigration bill next on the agenda after financial regulatory reform because of a controversial new law passed in Arizona that would require police to check the identification of people they suspect are illegal immigrants.

Lawmakers at the press conference referenced the Arizona bill, which several called “unconstitutional,” as the primary reason to pass a bill as soon as possible.

“I’d like to thank Arizona’s governor [Jan Brewer (R)] for rocketing this issue to the forefront,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.). “We’re pushing immigration reform to the top of the agenda.”

Despite the pressure to act, Democratic leaders in the House have hesitated to move first. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said two weeks ago that the House would look at immigration reform only if the Senate acted first. Reid has said both immigration and climate change are priorities.

The over half-dozen lawmakers at the press conference hailed mostly from the House, though Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezTaiwan and ICAO: this is the time Rubio warns of terror attack from Cuba flights Politicians shouldn’t be above the law, Trump and Clinton included MORE (D-N.J.), a longtime supporter of immigration reform, was also present.