South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says Democrats' aggressive push for healthcare reform has "poisoned the well" for immigration reform, leaving it effectively "dead" in the Senate.
"When I say immigration's dead in the Senate, risk-aversion abounds," Graham told the media during a Capitol Hill news conference, "Some of my colleagues will lose over healthcare. The consequences of this vote are going to be long-lasting politically."
Graham's view that immigration reform had been torpedoed by healthcare reform should come as no surprise to leading Democrats.
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Lindsey has crossed party lines to work with Democrats several times, most recently to hammer out a bipartisan deal with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Some 12 million illegal aliens are believed to reside illegally in the United States.
According to Politico.com, Graham said that when he met with Schumer and the president to negotiate terms on immigration earlier this month, he expressed "In no uncertain terms, my belief that immigration reform could come to a halt for the year if health care reconciliation goes forward.”
Pushing healthcare reform through via reconciliation is precisely what the White House opted to do, however. And now Graham tells TheHill.com that a deal on immigration reform is virtually impossible, given the backlash over the partisan healthcare reform debate.
"If you think you've created a problem for yourself on healthcare, why would you move onto immigration?" Graham asked, indicating that centrist Democrats would shy away from working with Republicans on the controversial legislation.
Perhaps anticipating that Obama will pressure Congress for an immigration bill, Graham said: "To the president: If you want to deliver on your unwavering commitment to immigration reform, write a bill. You write the bill, send it to the House. See what happens, because I don't think you have much of a chance of getting it through the Senate."
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