for Immigration Reform
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is the big prize in the quest for more than 70 votes for immigration reform, but the Gang of Eight is split over whether he's worth wooing.
Cornyn told Republican colleagues at a meeting Wednesday that he would consider making changes to his amendment to bolster the border-security provisions of the Senate bill.
His willingness to negotiate left some Republicans convinced after the meeting that he would strike a deal with the Gang of Eight and vote for final passage. His support would help the legislation pass overwhelmingly.
Republican members on the Gang of Eight think he is a gettable vote, even though they acknowledge some of their Democrat colleagues are skeptical. Democrats strongly doubt Cornyn will vote "yes," given his past record of opposing immigration reform plans.
"What I'm hoping is that we can negotiate with Sen. Cornyn to the point where we can get an agreement. We continue to talk," said Sen. John McCain (Ri-AZ), a leader of the gang.
Cornyn said he's willing to modify proposal but will not concede on what he calls its "fundamental substance."
"There are certain elements that are non-negotiable, specifically the mechanism by which we would guarantee the security measures in the bill would actually be implemented," he said.
The bill's authors are also negotiating with Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND), but neither of those lawmakers have the same authority as Cornyn on border security.
A Republican senator who is wavering over whether to support the bill said Cornyn's vote would bring along a large group of colleagues because Cornyn is the Republican whip and represents a border state.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested earlier in the week that his vote and the support of other Republicans could be contingent on the fate of Cornyn's proposals.
"Sen. Cornyn, I think, has got, in my view, the key amendment to put us in a position where we can actually look at the American people with a straight face and say we are going to secure the border," McConnell told reporters earlier this week. "That's going to be a very, very important amendment."
The legislation needs only 60 votes to pass the Senate. It appeared to have that many Thursday after Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK), a conservative Democrat said he was inclined to vote for the bill, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Ri-AS) voted to table an amendment sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), which Democrats characterized as a "poison pill."
The bill's authors want it to pass with at least 70 votes because that would give House Republicans political cover to support comprehensive immigration reform.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 06/14/2013
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