New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez tells Univision that the “gang of eight” senators working on an immigration overhaul don’t yet have 60 votes.
“We don’t currently have 60 votes identified in the Senate,” Menendez said, according to Univision’s translation of the interview, which will air Sunday.
Menendez was calling on supporters of the immigration overhaul to get in touch with their senators.
“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,” Menendez told Univision’s Jorge Ramos. “And if we do this, both in the Senate and, later, with the members of the House of Representatives, we can achieve the victory that we want.”
Menendez may simply be saying that the supporters of the “gang of eight” package haven’t conducted a formal whip count, rather than that they need to change the bill to get over a filibuster hurdle.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the immigration package 13-5 on Tuesday, setting the stage for floor consideration after the Memorial Day recess. Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., discussed the immigration bill at a news conference on Friday in Vermont, The Associated Press reported.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled Thursday that the immigration measure would be either the second or third legislative item on the Senate’s agenda for June. First, senators will resume consideration of the farm bill. Then, Reid said there may be time to turn to what he termed a “little energy bill” before tackling immigration.
That’s most likely a bipartisan energy efficiency measure drafted by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Reid did say no other controversial bills would hit the floor before the immigration package.
“I’m not going to do anything to interfere with the immigration bill,” Reid told reporters Thursday. “I’ve spent a lot of my legislative life dealing with this issue. For me it is an extremely important issue personally and each day that goes by I become more convinced.”
Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.