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Rubio: Senate immigration reform bill lacks 60 votes

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Tuesday said the Senate’s immigration bill does not have 60 votes, contradicting Democrats who say it would pass the chamber in its current form.

Asked by Fox News if the bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee had 60 votes, Rubio replied: “No, and I think even the Democrats would concede that.”

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Actually, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the opposite in an interview last week.

“I think we have 60 votes," Reid told Nevada radio program “To the Point.”

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), two other senators in the group of eight senators pushing the immigration reform bill, have said they hope to pass their proposal with 70 Senate votes.

Rubio is one of eight senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — who crafted the bill approved by the Judiciary panel. It would provide a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s illegal immigrants and would also crack down on enforcement.

The Florida Republican is a key member of the group of eight, as his backing of the proposal gives it credibility with conservatives, who are divided over the legislation.

In the interview with Fox, Rubio said the bill “is nowhere near being done.” He also said he was “optimistic that something good can happen, but it needs to happen the right way.”

Democrats have 54 seats in the Senate following Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D-N.J.) death. Sixty votes will be needed to move the bill given the threat of a filibuster.

Schumer and McCain want to win over more Republicans to put pressure on the House to take up the bill.

In a separate interview on CNBC, Rubio said he believed conservatives in the Republican-controlled House would support an immigration bill.

He said the “vast majority of Americans and Republicans and conservatives are willing to support" an immigration reform bill if there's an assurance that there will never be a backlog of 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally again.

“I think at a minimum conservatives are split, and I would argue to you that a vast majority of conservatives are prepared to accept the fact and accommodate 11 million people in this country so long as they go through certain steps,” Rubio said.