Democrats want it to be crystal clear. They don’t think Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is crucial to passing immigration reform. So they aren’t negotiating with him over his non-starter amendment to make a pathway to citizenship contingent upon establishing an unrealistic border security regime.
An article published by National Journal quotes Cornyn claiming Democrats are “talking to me” about his amendment, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has called a “poison pill,” and suggesting it’s an indication that they lack 60 votes to pass the broader bill.
But in unreported remarks Wednesday morning at a “Bibles, Badges and Business” event in downtown Washington, D.C., Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the leading Democratic immigration reform bill negotiator, implicitly disputed Cornyn’s claim — and a source close to Schumer, who provided the quote, says Cornyn’s characterization is false.“We cannot accept the Cornyn amendment,” Schumer said. “I’ve told John that already. The way it would change the triggers would jeopardize the path to citizenship. You should tell the people you’re lobbying that that is not going to happen. There may be other amendments dealing with the border that we can accept but not that one.”
The source close to Schumer adds, “Schumer likes Cornyn a lot personally, but he spent the first two years after President Obama’s election in 2008 trying to work with Cornyn on an immigration reform bill. He’s impossible to get to ‘yes’ on this issue.”
On the Senate floor Monday night, Schumer told Cornyn “you know full well that [your amendment is] a deal killer,” and that other Republicans are kicking around border security ideas that might ultimately be amenable to Democrats. But because Democrats don’t consider Cornyn’s vote gettable, there have been no staff- or member-level discussions since then.
Republican leaders have suggested strongly that Cornyn’s amendment is critical, and may be the deciding factor for a number of GOP members. Cornyn himself has suggested that if his amendment fails, the bill will go down.
That has all the hallmarks of a tough public negotiating stance, but Schumer’s remarks today suggest Dems think it’s a bluff.
Cornyn’s staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.