The time will be ripe for comprehensive immigration reform next year, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tells Politico, and some senators are already making plans to revive their polarizing Gang of Eight bill.
According to Politico, the South Carolina Republican and others are looking to capitalize on what they expect to be a GOP defeat in November.
“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do in 2017,” Graham said to Politico. “I’m going to take the Gang of Eight bill out, dust it off and ask anybody and everybody who wants to work with me to make it better to do so.”
Graham was a member of the Gang of Eight that tried to push through comprehensive immigration reform, which included amnesty for illegal immigrants, in 2013. The legislation passed in the Senate but failed to make it through the House.
As Politico reports, Graham is not the only former member of the “gang” who sees 2017 as possibly the year for comprehensive immigration reform.
“The hour [when] we can move it, we’ve got to move it,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), another Gang of Eight member told Politico. “If they don’t [understand the urgency], we’ll do another autopsy after the next election and we’ll determine we’ve got to do it.”
Flake was referencing the Republican National Committee’s 2013 report detailing the reasons the GOP lost the 2012 election. The so-called autopsy recommended adopting comprehensive immigration reform as a way to expand the party’s appeal.
While Flake and Graham are ready for another run at comprehensive immigration reform, the other two Republican members of the group Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — both of whom are facing reelection this year — are not necessary back in the bandwagon.
“I don’t believe that a comprehensive approach can pass, nor do I believe at this point, given everything that’s transpired, that it’s the right way forward,” Rubio told Politico.
McCain responded to questions about a Gang of Eight redux by telling Politico, “All I focus on is my election. Then I set the agenda for the next year.” He added, “I’m very superstitious about that.”
Sen. Chuck Schemer (D-NY), who is in line to become the next leader of the Democrats in the Senate, has also pinned 2017 as the year for reform.
“I think that in 2017, both Democrats and Republicans will come together and pass immigration reform,” Schumer, another Gang of Eight member, said in April.
Although some lawmakers might already have their legislative game pieces on the board, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a staunch opponent of amnesty and the higher immigration levels included in past reform efforts, told Politico the election is not over yet.
“The presidential election is just decisive on the whole situation in the sense that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama seem quite comfortable with the lawlessness that we have and seek constantly to increase immigration lawfully,” Sessions told Politico. “A Trump victory means that we will, I think in [a] rather short period of time, end the lawlessness at the border and will bring the country around to what I think a substantial majority favor.”