April 25th, 2010
11:49 AM ET
8 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. AFR531

    Everything that Congress does or doesn't do – is political – that's why you're called politicians.

    April 25, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Chris

    Delay, obstruct, and stop – that's all Republicans know how to do. If left up to the GOP, nothing at all would ever get done in Washington. These people were elected to serve the public – not sit around and complain while offering no solutions. The only thing the Republicans actively seem to be work for is the destuction of the President, and they don't care if the rest of the country goes down with him.

    April 25, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. keeth in california

    Immigration can wait, says the GOP. Fine. But you remember this next time some GOP lawmaker screams about immigration reform. This time, it was the Republicans who said it can wait while the Democrats want to finally take care of the issue.

    April 25, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. the truth

    Listen, we need IMMIGRATION REFORM and we need it now!!!! It needs to be addressed....people fail to realize that there are illegals in this country... they ARE WORKING and will continue to do so..bringing them out of the shadows and allowing them to work legally..which means having them pay taxes..which would be a HUGE boost to the economy....people keep saying that if there is amnesty they will "take" the jobs of americans...hellllooooo...these illegals ALREADY HAVE JOBS..and they are WORKING...they just do not pay taxes.....is it not better to allow them to work "legally" i.e pay taxes to benefit the economy??? Rounding them up and deporting them is just silly and will never work..the other option..comprehensive immigration reform which will simply allow..the illegals already here who are WORKING(and they will continue to work) to pay taxes and fees and thereby giving the economy a much needed boost.

    April 25, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Delay any kind of reform.....be it financial or immigration. That IS TODAYS REPUBLICAN PARTY! Don't people understand that change is exactly what the REPUBLICAN PARTY DOES NOT WANT! They want things exactly as they are now to stay the same.....in other words the status quo that they've come to love! They will only accept change when it affects them or their bank accounts. They could care less about anything that might help the country out of this recession.

    April 25, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. Chipster

    The fools in Arizona who support this legislation don't care if its unconstitutional. They also don't seem to realize that it doesn't just mean their gardeners, maids, and agri-workers can be stopped on the street. This law means anyone in Arizona can be stopped and forced to prove that they are U.S. citizens. If you live in Arizona, you'd better start carrying your birth certificate with you. I wonder how the white population will react when police ask them to prove that they are citizens. After all, we also have British, Russian, French, and other nationalities who overstay their visas. Everybody and anybody is subject to this law.

    Do you ever wonder why laws against hiring illegals aren't enforced?

    April 25, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. Doraine Gordon

    Unless it is to go to war or lower taxes for the rich the GOP ALWAYS says to let it wait. These Republicans never want to move on anything. How do they expect to ever get anything done if they wait on everything? It is always slow down, look at it line by line or take it off the table and start over. That just tells me that they don't intend to work with Obama or for the Amercan people. You folks who vote to keep them in Washington are as crazy as they are.

    April 25, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. Walker

    "Oh sure, I mean it’s pretty clear ", but that is only if you, yourself, are exclusively preoccupied with politics, and not with governance.
    Mr. President Obama has a job to do, and they're screaming "it's all politics" because he's trying to do the best job he can, and actually get something done.
    Seth Meyers, last night on SNL, caught the immigration debate perfectly in his comments about the blatant neo-fascism in Arizona, "Every time some policeman says "Show me your papers", Hitler's descendents get royalties!"

    April 25, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. Tristan

    This coming from the guy who questioned the patriotism of a disabled war vet. Georgians should be ashamed!

    April 25, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Ray E. (Georgia)

    It seems that when the issue of Immigration reform last was tried it was opposed by about two thirds of the public. I doubt that anything has changed. What will be done? You can bet that nothing will get done.

    The illegal immigrant is dammed if they pass immigration reform and dammed if they don't They are either going to work for poverty wages or have no job if reform is passed. No one will keep them working if they have to pay them the legal wage. And with unemployment at 10 to 18 precent the prospects are bleak even with citizens who are legal.

    April 25, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. JohnB

    This may be why congress can't get anything done. Working on just one thing at a time. Boy when the republicans were in charge they worked overtime to turn this prosperous country into a big business 3rd world cashless country. They were able to do two or more bills a day then. Now only one in 11months because of their stonewalling and lies. Vote them all out, and don't ever let the republicans have power again. they abuse it

    April 25, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Annie, Atlanta

    That's a little like the pot calling the kettle black there, Senator Chambliss. You've been playing politics with our lives since President Obama was sworn in. Have you heard about the new racial profiling law in AZ? The time for immigration reform is now. Are you guys so special that you can't do two things at once? And if so, can I have your job?

    April 25, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. mamacoo

    So, the Republican Governor stated she had to resort to this because the Federal Government has not been doing its job and Republicans in Congress are saying it's not that important, that it can wait? Meanwhile, John McCain says it is important......What ? Republicans are just plain off the chain. Hahahahahaha......

    April 25, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. Annie, Atlanta

    Ron in Asheville NC – I could not have said it better. Excellent!

    April 25, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Ohio Citizen

    Immigration reform is just another one of the many issues that have to be dealt with. Why is it that Republicans always say we have to wait on every initiative? If left to them we would do nothing about anything. That is exactly how they governed when they were in the majority. They kicked the can down the road on most of the pressing issues of the day, and when they faced political difficulty, they abandoned the few issues they tried to address. If I recall correctly, immigration was one of them.

    The majority party sets the agenda. That's just how our system works. So the Republicans had better man up and prepare to solve some problems.

    Now, not some undetermined point in the future.

    April 25, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. Liberal4Obama

    Memo to the GOP: You are absolutely doing nothing but robbing the tax payers of their hard earned money, sitting in Congress saying NO to everything and delaying debate is exactly what the American people are TIRED of, they want Congress to get things done, it doesn't matter what order just get things done !

    April 25, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Funny how all this stuff needs to get done by the end of summer. The Republicans had eight years to do that during the Bush administration and a majority when Clinton was in office.

    All of the sudden everything is a hurry but they either say "No" or refuse to cooperate. They have no investment in accomplishing anything unless it's pandering to corporations to line their pockets later. They say they want to take back a majority but all they will do then is the same thing they did before. Nothing. What a bunch of liars.

    April 25, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. TogetherWeStand

    Weel, the GOP had 12 years to work on the issue... twelve years, that sounds like plenty of time, one would think.

    April 25, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. NVa Native

    More smoke and mirrors from the party of "it's just too hard to do our job". Repubs claim some in Congress who are doing their job are "playing politics"?!
    If the Repubs had their way nothing would get done for the whole four years of President Obama's presidency – and everyone knows that's exactly what they are trying to do – nothing.
    Repubs claim they can't multi-task – for $200K a year they damn well better be able to do more than two things at once.
    How do these lazy bunch of "do-nothing good ol' boys" keep getting elected?

    April 25, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. SA in OO

    Hello ! Hello !

    Saxby do you ever read the news yourself or do you just comment on it.

    It wasn't the democrats that put Immigration reform front and center. It was the Republican leadership and the Republican Governor of Arizona, with their ill timed and ill conceived rule making in an attempt to usurp the constitutional authority of the Federal government in areas like immigration.

    President Obama has let this issue slide for a year, much to the discontent of many liberal supporters.

    April 25, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Harriet

    Ah ... Senator, we're paying you to do your job. That means finding time to work, not just dis the Democrats. If you can't multi-task like every other worker in America, you should resign. But to that you'll say "No," no doubt.

    April 25, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  22. Don Beal

    Arizona is up in arms with state action to do something about illegal immigrants. President Obama would like the federal government to increase efforts to do something, and the Republicans in the national government want to "wait". Politics are definitely in play. The Republicans will try to derail any success by President Obama even if the success is good for the nation.

    April 25, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Chambliss must be in la-la land: When you have a state that hits global television over a state law that is trying to trump Federal law then Cogress must act.

    Perhaps Chambliss is willing to give up his seat to an Az state senator.

    Why have federal legislators if state legislators can trump them.

    April 25, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Insanity!

    I wonder if it is possible for a rational discussion on any topic anymore? Have we become like the former Baltic states?
    A nation so divided by self-serving interests that no solutions are possible to any problem of consequence? I fear for the future of this country..... spoiled, nasty, ignorant people.

    April 25, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. k

    These people do not have any reasoning power and need to be voted out. We cannot have a strong country with leaders like him. Stop the madness!

    April 25, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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