As lawmakers work to pass an end-of-year spending bill, scheduled for December 8, senators from both sides of the aisle see an opportunity to address immigration issues. The goals of such a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers include passage of an increased border security measure as well as providing legal status to those immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and who are currently protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
According to a CNN report, “We need border security, so there’s a deal to be done,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told the CNN broadcast network’s “State of the Union” audience. Graham laid out his view of how the issues within immigration reform could play out as negotiations on the spending bill unfold. “For the DREAM Act, I think you could get strong border security and a break in chain migration. If you could put those three things together,” he said, “put it on the end-of-the-year spending bill, that would be a heck of an accomplishment for 2017.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) appears to also see potential for the Democrats and the Republicans to find common ground. “I can tell you when it comes to border security, we have signed up for that,” Durbin said on the immigration topic. “Sen. (Chuck) Schumer said that months ago.” Harkening back to the common ground aspect, “We believe that there are aspects of border security that Democrats and Republicans can agree on.”
While the aspect of border security could act as a springboard to a wider immigration reform package, an easy road to achieving bipartisan legislation isn’t in the forecast. On this note, Sen. Graham put out his caveats in spending bill negotiations. “Well, the way I look at the end-of-the-year bill is a chance to do some good for the country as a whole, starting by funding the Defense Department adequately,” he said. “I’m not going to vote for a bill that doesn’t increase defense spending dramatically. And I’m willing to increase non-defense spending of the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Corps of Engineers, the FBI, the CIA.”
On the point of immigration, Graham’s response to a question asking whether a government shutdown over immigration is possible, Graham was forthright in his response. “In Washington, anything is possible.”