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Leahy: Immigration, gun bills can pass Congress this year

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that immigration and gun control measures could pass this year if the two parties work together.

“I think we will, if people want to come together,” Leahy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

But Leahy cautioned that he only wanted to pass measures out of his committee that had bipartisan support on those two hot-button issues.

“I don’t want it to be a partisan bill. I’m working with both Republicans and Democrats. Unless we work with both Republicans and Democrats, we’ll pass nothing,” the Vermont Democrat added.

On guns, Leahy pushed back on recent comments from Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, opposing background checks for gun purchases.

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Leahy said on CNN that, as a gun owner himself, he doesn’t mind a background check as long as it’s applied universally, and that he didn’t expect a deal on guns to include registration requirements for owners.

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and other senators are currently working on a proposal to institute mandatory checks on all firearm purchasers.

“I think we ought to lower the rhetoric, and talk about reality,” Leahy said.

The Vermont Democrat added that, on immigration, he doesn’t want the desire to secure the borders to torpedo a plan that would give a pathway to citizenship for people who came to the U.S. illegally.

“What I’m saying is, don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good,” Leahy said.

“If you say there must be total security before we can go forward, well, that’s never going to happen,” he added. “This administration, the Obama administration, has spent more money on border security than any administration in history. There are still going to be some people getting through.”