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Sen. Durbin: We don't need 70 votes in Senate for immigration reform

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Monday that it would be a "big mistake" to chase 70 or more votes on immigration reform in the Senate. 

The second-ranking Democrat in the Senate said both sides have already made concessions and expressed worry that making more concessions on border security to win over Republican votes could weaken the bill. 

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Asked whether the bill needed more than 70 votes, Durbin responded with a flat: "No."

"We need 60 votes by the Senate standards," he said. "The more the better though. I just don’t want to compromise the values in this bill," he told CBS.

Durbin went on to stress that there had been concessions and negotiations on both sides before the bill was first unveiled.

"We worked for four months, had 30 minutes, [Sens.] John McCain [R-Ariz.], Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.], Lindsey Graham [R-S.C.], Marco Rubio [R-Fla.], myself, Bob Menendez [D-N.J.], we worked all this time to come up with a basic framework, and if we’re going to abandon this now to pick up 2, 3, 4 or 5 votes, that’s a big mistake," Durbin said. 

The senators he named are all in the bipartisan group that crafted the bill. 

Those pushing to win more GOP votes argue a big vote in the Senate would increase pressure on the House to take up the legislation.

The delicate Senate negotiations have been strained in recent weeks as Rubio has sought to push the bill further to the right, in hopes of gaining cover with his base and securing more Republican votes.

Durbin suggested that Republicans could pay a political cost if their maneuvering scuttled the bill.

"There’s no question in my mind that America is changing, more diverse. The voters are changing, and they’re going to look to those parties and candidates who are receptive to this change," Durbin said. "If your party candidate for president is saying leave, as in self-deport, it really says, well you don’t care much for immigrants. And people say, well that means the Hispanic vote."

Still, Republicans remain optimistic about the bill rallying support within the party. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Sunday that he believed the bill would get the large majority.

"I think we are going to get plus 70 votes” in the Senate, said Graham, predicting a “political breakthrough, that Congress is going to pass immigration reform.”

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