By The Hill Editors - 04/09/13 12:00 AM EDT
Sen. Charles Schumer has a lot on his plate this week.
The New York Democrat is trying to forge major compromises on two high-profile pieces of President Obama’s domestic agenda: immigration reform and gun control.
Schumer, who helped pass the 1994 assault weapons ban in the House, has long known that reinstating that ban is not going to pass during this Congress. But he has called background checks the “sweet spot” of gun-control efforts.
Meanwhile, the “Gang of Eight,” which includes Schumer, is close to an agreement on immigration reform. Schumer, the No. 3-ranked Senate Democrat, said bill language could emerge this week.
Passing both gun control and immigration reform will be extraordinarily difficult, but Schumer has gained the trust of key Republicans such as Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and John McCain (Ariz.).
Over the weekend, McCain criticized some of his fellow Republicans who are vowing to filibuster gun-control legislation, saying, “I don’t understand it. What are we afraid of?”
Schumer was instrumental in getting the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to reach a deal on an immigration plan for low-skilled workers, which had been a major obstacle to a deal.
Still, there is no agreement until all eight senators have signed off on bill language.
Like any dealmaker, Schumer has taken some friendly fire from his base. Immigration activists are worried that he and the other seven senators are focusing too much on border security.
Gun-control groups are concerned that gun legislation is being watered down to attract GOP support.
To have a successful 2013, Obama needs the Senate to act soon on gun-control and immigration legislation. That means he needs Schumer to broker deals that have so far been elusive.