April 20th, 2013
07:01 PM ET
9 years ago

Meanwhile in Washington ...

(CNN) - While the eyes of the nation were trained on Boston and West, Texas, this week, lawmakers in Washington turned their eyes to two major issues.

At the same time, they contended with a poisonous threat in the form of letters the FBI said tested positive for ricin sent to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator, and a Mississippi judge, as well as suspicious packages that turned up in the hallways of two Senate office buildings.

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The Gang of Eight senators working toward a deal on immigration reform unveiled their plan this week. It immediately hit hurdles, including criticism that the months-long process was conducted behind closed doors rather than more openly.

Still, the group's members expressed optimism the deal would rise above the deep divisions in the nation's capital.

"Powerful outside sources have helped defeat other initiatives in Washington. But on immigration, the opposite is proven true," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said while unveiling the legislation on Thursday. "I am convinced this issue will not fall victim to the usual partisan gridlock."

The sweeping reform package would impact nearly all of the estimated 11 million undocumented residents currently in the U.S. It would offer those who arrived before 2012 a 13-year path to citizenship and would require them to pay back taxes, pay a fine and pass a background check.

It would also require the administration to improve border security, a concern of many Republicans, and improve the e-verify worker verification system.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, seen as a rising star in the GOP and a member of the Gang of Eight, engaged in a media blitz, appearing on seven Sunday public affairs shows and offering a series of talk radio interviews later in the week.

He sought to bring aboard conservatives who may be concerned the group's plan amounts to amnesty.

"Both Democrats and Republicans have failed to enforce the laws, and the result is we do have millions of people that are here against our immigration laws," he said at a news conference. "We're not going to deport them. So let's secure the border, and let's bring these people out of the shadows."

While immigration made an entrance on Capitol Hill, gun control legislation made an exit.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he would not bring his bill on the issue up for a final vote in the Senate after the compromise on background checks negotiated by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, failed.

Their proposal was greatly scaled back from what Obama and many gun control proponents initially proposed after the December mass shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school.

But the expansion of background checks to sales made online and at gun shows was considered most likely of all gun-related restrictions to muster the necessary bipartisan support to succeed.

Obama said he supported the compromise - though he wanted it strengthened, - and after it failed, he chastised those who voted against it.

"All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington," he said, surrounded by families from Newtown.

Reid could pull the bill off the shelf if he believes he has enough votes for it to pass either as-is or amended, and he said he hoped the senators would continue their negotiations.

The stalling of the Senate bill also means the House gun legislation is all but dead.

But immigration will resurface on the Hill this week and Congress also digs into Obama's budget proposal with a series of hearings.

- CNN's Gregory Wallace, Dana Bash, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report

Filed under: Congress • Washington D.C.
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    Rising Star - Any republican that can speak English and hasn't been caught with another woman, yet.

    April 20, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  2. jimmyjo

    I love when our President bashes his own party and talks down to others like he is smarter and knows best!

    April 20, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  3. levendi

    What a joke. How are you going to collect back taxes? All this does is add 11 million people into the welfare roles to sink the American economy. Food stamps, welfare, unemployment, education and free medical benefits. Who is going to pay for this for 11 million people. Who?

    April 20, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  4. Do my own thinking

    When you buy a gun online it must be shipped to a Licensed Dealer to have the back ground check performed before that individual receives the gun. Shipping Legalities – "Federal Law requires that all modern firearms be shipped to a holder of a valid Federal Firearms License (FFL) only."

    April 20, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  5. Bill

    Meanwhile in Washington ... more circle jerks, less honoring of Americans' Constitutional rights.

    April 21, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  6. Beefburger

    But not a word about ramming through CISPA. Curiously still silent on Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

    April 21, 2013 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  7. J.V.Hodgson

    I am literally fed up of the 24/7/365 media trying to make US politics be it immigration, gun laws, anti terror or terrorist fighting a constant me for, you against blogging or positioning.
    Its time to report the "NEWS" not the speculation of be the first to know.... "know what" some inane anchor, we think this we think that and pundits think a democratic view and Republicans

    April 21, 2013 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  8. Reall?y

    If your here legally you can stay, here illegally you gotta go?
    There that was easy

    April 21, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  9. The Elephant in the Room

    The immigration bill faces Republican opposition and there are STILL no adult leaders in that party to snap the Tea-Party faction, those so-called patriots [read scared "traditional Americans"], into the 21st century.

    Marco Rubio is a false face, just as Micheal Steele was as RNC chairman. Rubio has no clout and those Republicans in Gerry-mandered districts will not listen to the voice of compromise. The pathway to a better America is to use women, Latino, Asian, black, gay & thinking white male voters to unseat Republicans in the US Senate [which can thwart the GOP-led House untile it changes into Democratic hands] AND to take statewide GOVERNORSHIPS and legislatures which can reverse "gerry-mandering".

    Do this and America will be restored to a representative Democracy that can function.

    April 21, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  10. Fact-based American

    CNN continues to claim that "online gun sales" occur without background checks.

    ALL "online gun sales" are required to go through a dealer with a federal firearms license (FFL) this has been true since the days before Al Gore "invented" the internet. And since 1994 all such sales have required that the FFL dealer perform a NICS background check on the purchaser before the gun can be transferred to the purchaser's possession.

    April 21, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  11. Blaine

    Not sure how many times they plan on writing misleading articles but lets get two things straight.

    1. Background checks are required at gun shows by every dealer who sells there. It is private sales that do not require them.

    2. Online sales require that the gun be sent to a licensed dealer and that dealer must do a background check before they will let you pick that gun up. If you don't pass you don't get the gun even though you already paid for it.

    Do some online sales bypass that requirement? Sure they do and making a new law won't change that. What the should do is give stiffer sentences to the people that do sell them that way and mail them directly to the buyer. This already illegal so I don't get what a new law will do to fix the problem.

    April 21, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  12. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Don't hold your breath Boston, Wayne LaPierre and the GOPT/D will soon put up bail for the Chet bomber.

    April 21, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. nan

    Why aren't you reporting on the ADDITIONAL $123 MILLION that the Obama Administration is giving to Syria and just announced by John Kerry. That makes $409 MILLION we're giving to Syria – we're supposed to be in a sequester!!! We are giving Syria $25 MILLION for food when there are people here in the USA going hungry. People are losing their houses, the unemployment numbers are INCREASING, inflation is going up, and Obama is giving our money away faster than we can earn it!!! Why doesn't CNN report all the news?

    April 21, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    Well, you gun advocates won didn't ya? And more Americans are being target by mentally ill people with assault weapons every day, yet you gun advocates So why are you complaining? This morning on the news it was reported that a 62 year old man in Connecticut has threatened the Governor. When the police searched his home, they found several unregistered and illegal weapons. So why complain, you gun lobbyist won right?

    April 21, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    Yes, people are losing their homes and struggling to make end meet because of the economic crisis the GOP created. Furthermore, the recovery process slowed when the GOPT took control of the House and fillibuster every jobs bill simply because their sole goal was to make the President fail. Where you been, under a rock?

    April 21, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  16. bs1

    The majority does not support a pathe to citizenship for the millions of criminal aliens, that would play directly into the democrats vote buying scheme. Permanent legal resident status perhaps after a long period, back taxes, fines and background check, but no citizenship and no voting rights. Their anchor babies have already stolen citizenship that is plenty.

    April 21, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  17. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    While families are still grieving the ones they lost in Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, Sandy Hook and else where, Wayne LaPierre and the GOPT/D gun lobbyists in Washington are pounding their chests and proclaiming they won. God help us!

    April 21, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Name lynn

    Its sorrow in boston an texas we the people is praying all over the world. The families are heart broken an hurting.

    April 21, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. just sayin

    in a complete twist of irony, here we have the fbi focusing in on one person for a background check to see if he is a threat and he passes with flying colors. and the looney democrats think background checks are the be all end all. yeah, right, sure worked for this bomber right? garbage in, garbage out. bad or no information results in bad decisions.

    April 21, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. GI Joe

    Thousands killed by guns, and $$$$$$$ buy the legislators. That's terrorism to me. Killing living, walking, talking people is terrorism.

    April 21, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. ALLuh

    meanwhile, back in DC, the president is giving $250 million dollars to terrorists in Syria. Enjoy America! It's over.

    April 21, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |