In an interview with Jorge Ramos on “Al Punto,” Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said that he is still several votes short of the 60 he needs to block the threat of a filibuster against his immigration reform bill.
“We don’t currently have 60 votes identified in the Senate,” Menendez said “We need to add more votes on the floor.”
Al Punto is the foremost Spanish language political opinion television show in the United States.
Menendez added, “That means that the community in your state, in every state, should be contacting your state’s two U.S. senators saying that they want comprehensive immigration reform that they are going to judge their political future based on this vote.”
Half of the members of the “Gang of Eight,” the group working to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation through the Senate, are Republicans, giving at least the feel of a bi-partisan issue. Although there are Republicans backing the package, not all of the 55 Democratic senators, especially those from more conservative states, are in favor of immigration reform.
The Gang of Eight did pick up an additional Republican vote this week from Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, but in return Hatch would like to see lawmakers support his four amendments on tax and benefit provisions.
Menendez said he feels good about his chances of gaining more support during the prolonged debate expected to unfold on the Senate floor over the immigration legislation. Last week the bill went through the Senate Judiciary committee on a yes vote of 13-5. Menendez added that he and his fellow “Gang” members are expecting and working towards support from about 70 Senators by the time the debate is over.
The Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, said that the Senate will begin discussing the immigration reform legislation either the week of June 3rd or June 10th, although the 10th seems more probable.