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. john

    Isn't Graham taking a lot of heat from the base about working too cozy with Dems. Republicans have a big problem with losing the base every time they try to pick up some support from the middle. And, after all, it's all about keeping their jobs, not doing anything for the country.

    April 25, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. Dave Harris

    Why is it that anytime Democrats want to do something, it's "playing politics" and anytime the Republicans want to do something it's "saving us from Socialism" or something equally ridiculous? These guys are complete losers; all they want is to get elected again so that they can continue raping and pillaging the country.

    April 25, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. bob

    Desperation tactics of the Republicans who dont want to see the Democrats passing too many good laws before the elections in November.

    April 25, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. Carl Justus

    If the republicans have a viable plan to reform the immigration laws what are they worried about.

    They know what they will propose will not set good with the hispanics or the American people and will lose them votes if they have to vote on immigration reform.

    April 25, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. jonny

    It amazes me to see how many people are so enthusiastic to see more laws made in this country. Its as if they want the government to tell them how to live their lives. I guess they need big brother to provide for them. It baffles my mind. America is not what it once was. Change has arrived. Obama played to win, and now he is using all of his chips to bring his change on so many fronts. I wonder if the US will experience a different type of change at the next election.

    April 25, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. juan

    They shouldn't be working on either one of them to tell you the truth...Obama will look too good to American people!

    April 25, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. ZipinSC

    So his solution is to ignore the issue. Good Call. Any time I have a problem I think I'll ignore it and maybe it will go away.

    April 25, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. moore

    It wil give the GOP and the loud mouth tea partiers a reason to scream the democrates can't get anything

    April 25, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Claudia Blairsville

    Sen Chambliss: Are you saying that Congress can only handle one problem at a time? I think NOT. You and your fellow Senators and Representatives are charged with the responsiblity of dealing with the multiple issues that face this country, they are clearly intertwined, we all understand that, the economy , immigration, financial reform, energy are connected., It is more of the linear thinking instead of the holstic / multi tasking approch you all have had for years. Yet another reason, that come Novemeber YOU and every single encumbent on both sides of the isle will be VOTED OUT!

    April 25, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. John

    "A lot on their plate"?.......we could save a lot of $ in congress, if we just lay off all GOP legislators and just have them leave a message on their answering machine...."Whatever the question is, the answer is.................................NO!

    April 25, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. They call me "tater salad"

    Now you didn't really expect ole Saxby to say anything different did you?......Of course not he is a Republican after all and anyone with a pulse knows their mindset.........."Just say no" and it's "all systems go"!!! You can always tell when there's an election coming up or when a pro athlete is up to renew a contract with their team or the highest bidder..........It's all the same!!!!!!

    April 25, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  12. Charlie in Maine

    Translation: we know Obama is right on this one so we don't want to talk about it before the election

    April 25, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Mr Bill

    Commentators always speak of illegal Hispanics, when almost 50% of the illegal people in this country are from other areas of the world. There are a large number of Irish, just to name one group. Many of the others are people who came here on student, work or tourist visas and just stayed past the expiration date of the visa. We have no system in place to keep track of these people so they can be contacted when the visa expires.
    This problem must be corrected with any immigartion law reform.

    April 25, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. Bob Krueger

    Maybe if the Senators spent more time on the job and less on vacation they could catch up with their workload.

    April 25, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. CommonJoe

    The GOP leaders have allowed their party to be hijacked by the principles of greed, intolerance, and hate, in the guise of patriotic righteousness – and its DISGUSTING. They obviously don't understand that 1) most Americans are smart enough to see right through this hypocrisy, and 2) that Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in this country (and not the aging exiled cuban kind in Miami, but rather those with Mexican roots, who are precisely the ones they are targeting with their hate rhetoric)

    Continuing down this path will ensure that the GOP becomes the official party of wingnuts, destined to be the sidelined minority for the foreseeable future. Good luck with that!

    April 25, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. Howard Levine

    Immigration reform cannot wait. Arizona and Texas are about to become minority in charge states. By this I mean more minorities then whites. Diversity is a great thing if everyone who makes up the demographics is a US Citizen. If not then we have a serious issue.

    April 25, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. yen

    Please do the right thing and the fair thing for the people. Stop politisicing everything.

    April 25, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. Ron

    "no time," the good Senator says, for immigration reform. If both parties would stop their bickering and posturing for political advantage, they might actually have the time to do the work of the country.

    April 25, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. Gary

    Many Liberal agenda issue items need to be blocked and this is the one that needs blocking the most.

    April 25, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. Dave

    The only way anything is going to get done is to get the GOP out of all positions. We can't go anywhere or fix anything with the party of 'NO' in the way. If they don’t want to participate there is no need for a GOP.

    April 25, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Too bad Saxby didn't have this kind of catharsis during the run-up to the phony war in Iraq that killed many Americans and created incredible debt., eh?! Of course, Saxby was helping Halliburton to record profits, so he was preoccupied!

    April 25, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. William Jefferson

    This would be the saxbee chambliss who accused a decorated Vietnam HERO Max Cleland of being soft of terrorism and even ran ads with Max CLeland, who lost the use of his arms and legs diving on a grenade in Vietnman to save his fellow soldiers - morphing his face into that of Usama bin Laden. chambliss has the morals of a reptile and integrity of a jackyll. He is lower than pond scum, but it was his tru to try to explain why the republicons are opposing doing anything, and this time saying that they can't do anything because there is too much to do - leaving out that all of what is pending is only pending becaue republicons won't let any of it come to a vote. It would all have been done weeks and months ago if not for their tactic of skrwing the nation for cheap points.

    April 25, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  23. Hammerer

    How simple can the fix for illegal immigration be?
    Enforce the laws of the US that have been ignored.
    Close the borders.
    Cut off all social services to illegals.
    Deport all illegals.
    Welcome all immigrants that enter the country and follow Americas law.
    How hard is that?

    April 25, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. Djinn

    The Republicans in Congress (not the neo-con repugnicans) do have a lot on their plate. They have to rebuild a legitimate political party after what was a political party has been raped and pillaged by Right wing bigots and sore losers. The Arizona police state will certainly not make their job any easier. It is truly a shame when politics has gotten so shameful it makes you miss Nixon!!

    April 25, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. Marry

    I sure hope for another good bill that will serve the American public well. And if the GOP does not want to help with it then the DNC just has to do it alone again. Will be interesting what the GOP is going to run on in Nov. Just “…we could have done better!” after having not done anything but run the country into the ground for 8 years before President Obama was elected, will not amount to much!

    April 25, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
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