April 25th, 2010
11:49 AM ET
5 years ago

Republican suggests immigration reform can wait

Sens. Chambliss, left, and Menendez, right, discussed immigration Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.
Sens. Chambliss, left, and Menendez, right, discussed immigration Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.

Washington (CNN) – Sen. Saxby Chambliss said Sunday that Democrats are playing politics with the issue of immigration reform. The Georgia Republican also suggested that the Senate should have higher priorities than immigration reform and energy legislation just now.

“I’m not sure how you can really justify bringing either one of them up at this point,” Chambliss said on CNN’s State of the Union.

He added that the Senate has yet to make any progress on the budget or the many appropriations bills necessary to fund the federal government’s operations.

“We’ve got a lot of work left on our plate between now and the end of the summer,” he said, noting that the Senate was about to take up financial regulatory reform. “I’m not sure where you find the time to deal with these other major issues,” Chambliss told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Watch: Immigration v. Wall Street reform

Asked by Crowley whether political considerations are pushing Democrats to move immigration onto the front burner during this midterm election year, the Republican did not hesitate.

“Oh sure, I mean it’s pretty clear that’s what this is all about," he responded.

Pointing to the Bush administration’s failed efforts to pass an immigration reform bill in 2007, Chambliss said A comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system – including dealing with those living in the U.S. illegally – was “not practical” until the country’s borders are sealed.

“Until you seal the border, trying to have an overall package on immigration just simply can’t be done,” Chambliss told Crowley.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, appearing with Chambliss Sunday, called immigration an issue that involved the country’s security and economic interests. Pointing to the recently passed law in Arizona, Menendez also said comprehensive immigration reform was necessary to protect the civil rights of those in the country legally. Menendez said the financial regulatory reform bill will take priority before an immigration or an energy bill.

The new Arizona law also prompted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to say last week that he will make passing a comprehensive immigration bill a priority once the Senate completes its work on a Wall Street reform bill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, reacted to Reid’s move by announcing that he is withdrawing his support and involvement in efforts to craft an energy bill intended to win bipartisan support in the Senate. Graham, the Republican linchpin in both the energy and immigration negotiations with Senate Democrats, called the Democrats’ decision to prioritize immigration “nothing more than a cynical political ploy.” Democrats, for their part, have privately charged that Graham is trying to put the brakes on an immigration bill in order to protect his longtime friend Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. A spokesman for Graham called that charge “nonsense.”

McCain is up for re-election and facing former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, a GOP primary opponent who has made his tough stance on border security and immigration one of his signature issues. Reid also is up for re-election and trailing likely GOP opponents in the polls. Shepherding a comprehensive immigration reform bill through the Senate would likely help Reid in Nevada, a state with a growing demographic of Hispanic voters. Given the Arizona’s new immigration law, consideration of a comprehensive federal immigration law prior to November’s election could put McCain in a difficult position in Arizona, which also has a growing number of Hispanic voters.


Filed under: Energy • Immigration • Popular Posts • Saxby Chambliss • Senate • State of the Union
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    Just because GW Bush couldn't watch TV and eat a pretzel without choking doesn't mean President Obama and the Democratic Party can't do more than one thing at a time.

    The Republicans are such a lazy bunch of jerks! They crow on about how they have "values," and yet all they do is sit on their duffs and collect their taxpayer-funded salaries!

    Losers!

    April 25, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. Denna

    Of course the Rethugs want to postpone the immigration debate. If President Obama starts working on that they will be in quite a quandary. Do they come out against it and alienate the Hispanic population, or do they come out in favor of some kind of reform that would benefit the Hispanic population and alienate the Tea Party vote. Wow the old rock and a hard place. Good luck with that!:-)

    April 25, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Dan A

    Saxby Chambliss –One of the most lying and crooked people in the Senate!!! What a Moron !!!

    April 25, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. phenom4ever

    Even if they don't pass an Immigration reform by november, the Republicans would get no votes from the latino and immigration communities, so if they think they're going to take over in november, they better think again.

    April 25, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    ll these old politicians are looking down the barrell of 21st century technology which they are incapable of keeping up with or managing and they know it. They are constantly scramblng for ways to avoid being detected by just saying NO to everything. America must move forward, these old guys like John McCain are buying time at our expense, they've got to go. The horse and buggy era is long gone and they need to be gone with it.

    April 25, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. sam62

    After all manufacturing jobs been sent to China during Clinton/Bush times, unemployment of 10% and higher will become everyday reality. We are not going back to 5%. Ever.
    Before the crisis many jobs were artificially fueled by borrowing on federal, state, corporation and family levels. Not any more.

    April 25, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. jenn,philadelphia

    Mr. America, who looks like the idiot now? Obama couldn't and didn't work on anything else but health care for 11 months. Seems he really can't do more than one thing at a time. As for the Democrats suddenly thinking immigration reform is a "crisis" and "must be done now" (sound familiar?), when George Bush wanted reform, they helped scuttle any bill because they didn't want to give Bush a win (also sound familiar?).

    April 25, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. hankers

    So, local GOP hopefuls pandering to the white majority in their party to gain politiacal advantage support this law which may be unconstitutional while saying it is because DC has not address in past DECADES and the national level GOP say do nothing right now and that Dems are playing politics with this? I am so confused!

    April 25, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. jj

    Republican way or the highway!

    April 25, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. gary

    Of course, Hispanics will vote even if this immigration reform never comes to the floor of Congress before the midterm elections. And, by then there will be court cases challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's laws, probably emotional incidents such as some Mexican-American soldier is told to produce his or her "papers" while white soldiers are seldom if ever asked to prove they are "legal," and chances are that churches-including the Catholic church–will come out against the new laws in Arizona. All-in-all, this is a lose-lose situation for Republicans. And, they know it.

    April 25, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. southerner

    Ah'll bet he never has gone out and talked to his constituents or spent much time out in Arizona. Those Republicans think its time for immigration reform. And none of this amnesty that Reagan came up with, didnt' work last time, won't work now. We need to root them out of the jobs and send them home. All of them.think of the jobs driving buses to the border. Or trains.

    April 25, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Greg Hodges

    It is hilarious listening to Republicans complaining about how the Dems. are playing politics; after decades of stalling health care, WallStreet, and a myriad of other reforms; simply because it suited their agenda of reaping billions of dollars from lobbyists for Big Business for "Special Favours" from the G.O.P.!! They almost wrecked the U.S. economy over turning over the reigns of power to special interest groups through deregulation. Now they turn their jaded eyes over to a new divide and conquer stradegy with immigration. They have sown the seeds of fear that has resulted in this lunatic Tea Party movement; and now they keep fanning the flames of intolerance over who is a Real American. Same old crap; Shame!!

    April 25, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. Tony in Maine

    Chambliss is that great patriot who Swift Boated a triple amputee, Max Cleland, saying he was soft on terrorists. Chambliss should never do anything to get his name before the public since it only reminds us of the slime that he is.

    April 25, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. Jeff

    Can't find the time!? Well sir, make the freaking time. How can this guy say the Dems are using this issue to score political points. It is obvious that the Repubs are stalling for political points. They hope to take a house or senate in the fall and then keep illegals illegal so their cronies will have a workforce that can't collect benefits and can't demand good pay.

    April 25, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  15. Ron in Asheville, NC

    Of course it's a "back burner" item for the GOP. They won't get any national creds if something sensible is (FINALLY) done. Like enforcing current law–which is all that it would take. But no, wait, the GOP's backers in the business community have made it clear that they're opposed to that! Hmmm. No political payoff anywhere!

    Meanwhile Arizona Latinos–not only illegals but those legally here and citizens (some of whose families date back to the sixteenth century)–and anybody who might look Latino now have targets painted on their backs thanks to that same GOP, Arizona branch!

    And tell me again: why do they complain when some people label them "fascists"?

    April 25, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. Ron

    Lets see, the GOP says there is a lot on the Senates plate that needs to be done. Hum! So, do you think he means that if the GOP didn't hold things up so much that the Senate might get some things done?

    April 25, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  17. Larry L

    So many initiatives to block and such little time... Being a party of "No" is so demanding! It must frustrate Republicans to see initiatives created to support common people rather than the fat cats the GOP represents.

    April 25, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. tom

    Open borders are open invites for anyone wishing to do us harm. if i were a terrorist wanting to bring nuclear devices into this country i would come in via Mexico. we must keep illegals out whether they be asians, hiispanics or africans.

    April 25, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. Chris Whitmore

    I heard the Arizona Governor say that she didn't know what an illegal immigrant looked like. Have you ever heard anything more disingenuous?

    Now we have another Republican culture war. That's the mantra–when you can't win the battle of ideas, talk about gays, guns, God, and illegals.

    These are sad people who have abdicated any claim to leadership.

    April 25, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. Edwin

    Lawmakers in Arizona sent a pretty clear message: this CANNOT wait. It doesn't matter what the GOP wants. It doesn't matter what the democrats want. It needs to happen - End of Story.

    April 25, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  21. Jim

    You just have to laugh when the party of "NO" is talking about setting of priorities, suggesting that something needs to be accomplished more quickly that something else. The GOP has done nothing, absolutely nothing, but try to block everything the Obama administration has done and tried to do. The GOPs' only suggestion has been to "start over," and "start from a clean slate." The have offered no constructive suggestions or alternatives. Now they have the gaul to suggest that the priorities are wrong?

    Here's a news flash for republicans, doing nothing does not qualify as a priority. As the old saying goes, "lead, follow, or get out of the way." The republicans certainly are not leading, and they are not following, all they are doing is getting in the way. That is not governing.

    April 25, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. Pragmatic

    Short, selective memories: the last time the GOP was facing midterm elections it was all about "terrorists under the bed" & the "mushroom cloud!"

    Now the GOP wants to delay immigration reform: they didn't do anything in their 8 year administration .... the GOP just doesn't want people to see how mean they really are – just before an election!

    How can you run on the platform of "We Didn't Accomplish Anything"

    April 25, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. johnnyhouse

    It is all about votes- nothing else. Just think we will eventually be on a par with Mexico and its violence as it spreads into our country. We need to hire the North Koreans to secure our borders if we are too politcally correct to up hold our laws. Better yet close the border until Mexico gets control of its country.

    April 25, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  24. Michael

    The entire GOP platform right now consists of sabotaging the government of the USA! That much has been obvious for some time. They have nothing positive to contribute; the plan seems to be to prevent change as much as possible until they can regain control as puppets of Big Industry.
    The American people deserve the changes initiated by the Obama administration; even in the watered-down form that is the result of political compromise, they are a good start. Complete reform will follow later.
    Wake up GOP: change is a universal constant. Resistance is a denial of reality. Our USA is woefully behind the rest of the industrialized world in terms of civil rights, and this cannot continue indefinitely.

    April 25, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. JFC

    How Ironic to hear a Republican talk about "things to do".

    More like "things to stall, things to block, things to delay, things to impede, things to obstruct, things to hinder, things to hamper..."

    April 25, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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