Six-term Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) is turning 81 on August 29th and is in the process off facing chemotherapy for a brain cancer diagnosis. But that isn’t stopping him from making plans to revive his long standing effort to reform the nation’s immigration system.
McCain made a dramatic call for bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, and before he left Washington for his treatment, the senator talked with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The two men worked together on legislation that was unsuccessful in 2013 as a part of what was known as the “Gang of Eight.” McCain wants to bring the “gang” back together.
“Immigration reform is one of the issues I’d like to see resolved,” McCain told The Arizona Republic in a Thursday interview. “I’ve got to talk to him (Schumer) about when would be the best time. I think there are all kinds of deals to be made out there. I really do.”
This is a lofty goal for McCain with Trump, McConnell, and Ryan in positions of power. President Trump has appeared hostile to any immigration legislation that would balance border-security with a pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status. But McCain said that Schumer is ready to return to work on immigration reform.
“Basically it’s what we passed last time, brought up to date with the new challenges, like opioids,” McCain said. “It’s still there. We got 68 votes, I think, the last time. I don’t think that’s going to be any different next time.”
At least on voice believes this would be a valiant effort, Frank Sherry, the executive director of the pro-reform organization called America’s Voice. “It’s difficult to imagine Trump signing a comprehensive immigration reform bill because he’s so focused on stoking his base,” said Frank Sharry. ”But you can see how more and more people are moving away from Trump as his poll ratings sink, as his lying becomes endemic, and his temperament is so obviously juvenile,” he said. “It’s conceivable that a group of bipartisan-minded Republicans in the Senate can make common cause with bipartisan-minded Democrats.”
In 2013, McCain and Schumer led the bipartisan Gang of Eight, which also included Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Their focus aimed to balance border security with a pathway to citizenship and a modernized visa system.
McCain knows that getting this legislation passed won’t be easy and getting Trump behind it seems improbable. But he says, “I don’t know, but what I do know is that if we could pass it through the House and Senate the way we passed it through the Senate last time, it’s like this Russia (sanctions) bill, it doesn’t matter,” McCain said. “Do you think he (Trump) signed it because he liked it?”
As McCain faces his personal battle, he is not shying away from one that he believes would be best for this country.
Credit: USA Today