Player of the Week: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSupreme Court limps to finish Senate Dems link court fight to Congressional Baseball Game Dems: Immigration decision will 'energize' Hispanic voters MORE (D-Ill.) is working on two high-profile bills this week: immigration reform and an online sales tax measure.

 Durbin has been working on both issues for more than a decade, and both could become law this year.

ADVERTISEMENT
On Monday, Durbin excused himself from a Senate Judiciary Committee immigration hearing to join forces with Sen. Mike EnziMike EnziJudd Gregg: The silver lining Judd Gregg: A little change Lobbying World MORE (R-Wyo.) to manage the floor debate on the Internet tax bill.

The legislation would allow states to tax online purchases from companies outside their borders. 

Enzi noted that he first tackled the issue when he came to the Senate in 1997. At that time, the effort had little momentum, with critics ripping it as slapping a major tax on the Internet.

Sixteen years later, the political winds have shifted, and the bill is expected to easily pass the upper chamber this week. In a nonbinding vote as a budget amendment last month, it received 75 votes.

Durbin, the Senate majority whip, was very disappointed that a major bill expanding background checks for gun purchases was defeated last week. The prospects for immigration reform, however, are much brighter.

The Illinois Democrat on Monday said he’s been part of so many Senate gangs he should have tattoos. During the last Congress, Durbin and other senators fell short in trying to craft a bipartisan, fiscal grand bargain. 

The Gang of Eight bipartisan senators, including Durbin, released a comprehensive immigration reform last week. Its path through the Judiciary panel and the upper chamber will be extremely challenging. But the bill has gotten off to a good start, especially considering that it is such a controversial topic.

One of Durbin’s biggest legislative achievements was the enactment of debit interchange reform, or so-called “swipe fees,” in 2011. He hopes to add two more high-profile bills to the list this year.