A broad coalition backing immigration reform will force reluctant Republicans to pass the Senate's comprehensive bill by the end of the year rather than trying to pass piecemeal legislation, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says.
Evangelicals, the Catholic Church, business, labor, farm workers and growers have backed the effort, said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as the pair appeared together on Fox News Sunday. McCain said he has "never seen such widespread support" and that an overwhelming majority of Americans support the bill "once it is explained to them."
Gowdy: Immigration Reform Needed, But Not on Schumer's Timetable
Both senators are members of the Gang of Eight, four Republicans and four Democrats, which crafted the bill passed by the Senate
68-32 last week.
McCain said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has a tough job ahead convincing members of his party to pass the bill. Many, including Rep. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have said the bill is dead of arrival
in the House.
"I know that's not what they think now, and they'll say, 'Oh no, that's not what's gonna happen,' but I think it will," he said.
Boehner has a large number of Republican members who fear GOP primaries if they vote yes, Schumer said, but he believes the dynamic will change in the coming months. When they see the coalition backing the effort gaining steam, he thinks those same Republicans will act quickly.
The national Republican leadership will tell Boehner, "If you don't pass a bill then we are going to be a minority party for a generation," Schumer said.
Schumer said he also sees the move as possibly "one of the greatest civil rights we've movements ever seen. By the end of summer, a million people may take to the National Mall to call for passage, he said.
"And who's going to be on stage?" he asked. "Not the usual suspects, but the bishops and the evangelicals and the business leaders."
The issue isn't going away, Schumer said. Supporters will be at town hall meetings of Republican Congressmen, visiting them in their offices, and showing up in the halls of Congress.
"We've seen the power of these Dream Act kids," he said.
Piecemeal bills can't pass, he said, because no Democrat will vote for a bill that doesn't provide a path to citizenship, and about 40 Republicans have said they won't vote for any immigration bill at all because they don't want a conference committee that would work out a comprise bill.
"(Boehner) will have nothing or he'll have the Senate bill, Schumer said. "And for some of these Republicans, the lesser of two evils is the Senate bill."
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