Sen. Cotton on his "sensible and coherent" immigration bill, White House security clearances

Sen. Cotton: Immigration, security clearances

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, says while he's hopeful his legislation to provide a fix to the nation's immigration policies can get past the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, he considers it the "one bill that can become law." Cotton introduced the more conservative Secure and Succeed Act with six other GOP senators to tackle the issues of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and so-called "Dreamers."

Cotton told "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday that his framework legislation is a "sensible and coherent package" that "gives legal status and ultimately citizenship to almost 2 million young illegal immigrants" and "deals with the negative side effects as well." 

The Senate has officially begun its debate on the DACA fix, a process Cotton called "unusual" and "freewheeling."

"We shouldn't be focused on passing bill out of Senate, we should be focused on passing a law, something that can get the majority vote in the House and something that President Trump can sign," said Cotton. 

Among other aspects of Cotton's plan, it aims to eliminate the visa lottery system and cuts legal immigration by 50 percent over a decade. Cotton added that the bill was "generous" to immigrants and doubted the likelihood of other immigration bills securing enough votes to pass in the Senate. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his personal support of Cotton's plan on the floor on Monday, while Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a more "narrow bill" that would fix DACA saying, "now is not the time, nor the place, to reform the entire legal immigration system." Both Republican leaders and Democrat Dick Durbin suggested they'd like to wrap up debate on the issue this week. 

Meanwhile, as the White House continues to grapple with the issue of security clearances in the wake of the resignation of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, Cotton defended the process of acquiring a security clearance saying, "background checks can take some time." He noted, however, in response to Porter handling some of the nation's most top secret documents while only having an interim clearance, "security clearances shouldn't be interim, they should be permanent."

Cotton added that while Porter resigned in the midst of allegations of domestic abuse of two of his ex-wives, he said, "like President Trump, I have 100 percent confidence" in White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital