Menendez: “I Have an Open Mind”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), former member of the Gang of Eight, is the lead supporter of President Biden’s immigration bill, submitted to Congress on “Day One” of the new administration. In a conference call yesterday with pro-immigration business and lobbying groups, Menendez announced that he was prepared to “negotiate with Republicans to reach the threshold necessary to pass the measure in the Senate.”

That threshold is 60 votes in favor, the number necessary to avoid a bill-killing filibuster in the Senate.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Menendez told his audience, citing the fact that one of his Republican cohorts on the Gang of Eight, Marco Rubio (R-FL), had already called the bill a “non-starter.”

Rubio said in a statement on Wednesday:

Before we deal with immigration we need to deal with COVID, make sure everyone has the chance to find a good job, and confront the threat from China. America should always welcome immigrants who want to become Americans. But we need laws that decide who and how many people can come here, and those laws must be followed and enforced.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday called Biden’s immigration proposal unrealistic and too sweeping to pass the Senate, although in the spirit of collegiality he too seems willing to compromise, saying:

I think they would have a good chance of getting something done on DACA, even citizenship for DACA people. Legalizing 11 million people without securing the border… I don’t think it’s going to go over very well.

Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), another Gang of Eight member, told reporters Thursday that he has reached out to half a dozen Republicans about the legislation. “They have been open to the conversation,” he said. “We haven’t agreed on anything, but they’ve been open to it, and that’s what it’s going to take.”

The Democrats, after having fought the previous administration tooth and nail but now finding themselves in control of the entire federal government, are making an effort to sound conciliatory. Menendez said compromise is the key.

We will not stray far apart from our principles and the essence of the legislation… But at the end of the day, they have to be open to some negotiation. I have an open door and an open mind and an open hand to anyone who wants to engage in legitimate reform, and I have begun some of those conversations.

For more, see The Hill.


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