House Dems pressure Sen. Reid to act on immigration reform

Democrats held the press conference to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAfter Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp GOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination 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 Vicente GutierrezWATCH: Gutiérrez says ‘lonely’ Trump can cry on KKK’s shoulder over WH departures Read Trump's remarks at Gridiron dinner Why Puerto Rico cannot govern itself MORE (D-Ill.) said. "It's time for them to make their proposal clear."

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Several lawmakers did take aim at Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Cybersecurity: Senators eye path forward on election security bill | Facebook isn't winning over privacy advocates | New hacks target health care Paul backs Pompeo, clearing path for confirmation Can Silicon Valley expect European-style regulation here at home? MORE (R-S.C.), who had been negotiating an immigration proposal with Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCan Mueller be more honest than his colleagues? Throwing some cold water on all of the Korean summit optimism House Republicans push Mulvaney, Trump to rescind Gateway funds 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 LeeThe Hill’s Morning Report: Michael Cohen’s big day in court House Judiciary chair to subpoena for FBI documents Judiciary Dems warn Trump: Don't fire Mueller, Sessions during House recess 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 (Bob) MenendezSenate must save itself by confirming Mike Pompeo Poll: Menendez has 17-point lead over GOP challenger Russian attacks on America require bipartisan response from Congress MORE (D-N.J.), a longtime supporter of immigration reform, was also present.