Schumer: Immigration bill in Senate could be ready by week’s end

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday expressed optimism that a Senate bipartisan immigration bill could be ready by week’s end.

“I think we’re doing very well. I think that we hope that we can have a bipartisan agreement from the eight of us on comprehensive immigration reform by the end of this week,” said Schumer, a member of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”


The Senate group unveiled a framework for immigration reform in January and has since been negotiating the details of a plan that would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.

“Over the last two weeks, we’ve made great progress. There’ve been kerfuffles along the way but each one of those thus far has been settled,” said Schumer.

“The staffs of the eight of us are in a room working twelve-hours a day taking all the agreements that we’ve come to over the last three months and turning them into legislative, specific legislative language,” he added. “That’s a tedious arduous process. … but thus far we are on track.”

The White House said last week it was “encouraged” by the Senate work, but cautioned that lawmakers were “not there yet” on an agreement.

“We are encouraged by the continuing signs of progress that we are seeing in the Senate as the Group of Eight and the Senate more broadly works on comprehensive immigration reform,” press secretary Jay Carney said.

Efforts toward a deal were bolstered last weekend when labor and business groups reached agreement on a plan to create a new visa for low-skilled workers, a hurdle to comprehensive immigration plan. Schumer helped negotiate the deal between the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce.

But there are still divisions over how quickly the Senate should move on immigration reform once language is unveiled, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Tea Party favorite and member of the immigration group, warning that lawmakers should move cautiously and build public support for the measures.

Rubio is crucial to winning conservative support for the bill and last week said reports lawmakers were close to a deal were “premature.”

Schumer on Sunday said there would be no deal until all members of the group were on board.

“All of us have said there will be no agreement until all of us agree on a big specific bill, but hopefully we can get that done,” he said.

Sen. John McCain, also a member of the Gang of Eight, praised Rubio’s contributions on CBS.

“He’s been very helpful. He’s reached out to conservative sides,” said McCain. “Marco is very important.”

“The desire of all eight to meet in the middle and come to an agreement which is so much more important than each little thing that we may prefer one way or the other has carried us this far,” said Schumer.  “I am very hopeful and optimistic that it will carry us through the whole way.”