Democratic leadership in the Senate believes "strongly," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters today, "that this will be the year that Congress finally gets some common-sense immigration reform across the finish line."
Two days after President Obama delivered a speech in Las Vegas outlining his proposals for comprehensive reform on immigration that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States, Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., "has told us he'll do whatever it takes to get a good, strong, bipartisan bill through the Senate."
Schumer said the goal is for the Senate's bill to get through by "late spring or summer," giving the Republican-led House "ample time" to pass legislation before the end of 2013.
Though "we have a long way to go," Schumer said, the blueprint put forward by a bipartisan group of eight senators that largely aligns with the president's plan, "was a major breakthrough."
Mr. Obama on Wednesday in an interview with the Spanish-language television network Telemundo said he's looking to get his immigration proposals into law within the next six months. He also said in another interview, with Spanish-language Univision, he had "no doubt" that gun control legislation, in addition to immigration reform, can make it through the hoops of Washington this year. Appearing with Schumer today, Reid echoed that confidence.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee that on Wednesday held a hearing on gun violence, "can do both issues, and he's going to do both issues," Reid said. The majority leader also praised his colleagues for "legislating the way we're supposed to legislate," in terms of ushering bills through the committee structure, and said they will "treat both issues the same way."
Walking out of a Democratic caucus meeting today, Vice President Joe Biden reiterated the urgency of legislation to help curb the escalating gun violence in the United States, arguing the American people "will not understand if we don't act."
"Look, nothing we're going to do is going to fundamentally alter or eliminate the possibility of another mass shooting or guarantee that we will bring gun deaths down to a thousand a year from what it is now," Biden said. "But, there are things that we can do - demonstrably can do - that have virtually zero impact on your second amendment right to own a weapon for both self-defense and recreation that can save some lives. And the point that I was making in [the policy lunch meeting] is not a difficult equation.
"If I can prove that there is no constitutional impact on your right to bear arms and the action I'm suggesting can in fact demonstrably show some people could be saved, he continued, "then it seems to be a no-brainer."