MENENDEZ: Gang of 60 needed on immigration in Senate

MENENDEZ: Gang of 60 needed on immigration in Senate


By:  Bob Menendez
The Record

 

When it comes to solving big problems, the road to success is paved by bipartisan goodwill.

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I still believe if brought to the floor, the Gang of Six compromise would surpass that coveted 60-vote threshold. After all, the same week it was rejected by President Trump, we had 56 senators on board. Now, with the deadline to protect America’s Dreamers just around the corner, we must make another good-faith effort to reach an agreement capable of securing 60 votes in the Senate, a simple majority in the House of Representatives, and President Trump’s signature.

Reaching such an agreement will not be easy, but I know it is possible. I saw it happen in 2013 when the Senate passed the comprehensive immigration reform bill I helped craft with the Gang of Eight. That measure went far beyond the DREAM Act to include huge reforms to modernize our entire immigration system and bring 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.

Throughout my career in Congress, I’ve strived to build bipartisan consensus on the big issues of the day. While leading the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I worked to bring Republicans and Democrats together to craft our responses to major global crises – like the sanctions we passed to punish Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

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Ultimately, I believe the American people are better served when the Senate advances legislation that’s capable of passing by more than a razor-thin margin. While Democrats spent more than a year courting Republican support for health care reform, we ultimately passed the Affordable Care Act with solely Democratic votes. After accepting dozens of Republicans amendments to our legislation, perhaps there was nothing more we could do to get them on board. But if we did, I would bet that Republicans wouldn’t have spent most of 2017 relentlessly working to repeal “Obamacare.”

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Despite the erosion of trust in the Senate, I still see the potential for bipartisan breakthroughs on tough issues. This past year, I introduced a comprehensive flood insurance reform package that brought together Republican senators like Marco Rubio of Florida and progressives like Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. As the Senate Banking Committee examines the dysfunction and unaffordability plaguing our National Flood Insurance Program, I am hopeful that the bold, bipartisan reforms we negotiated are adopted and advanced in 2018.

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The Senate majority may control the agenda, but the minority has a voice. Our best hope at delivering lasting solutions for the American people – from immigration to pensions to infrastructure — is by advancing legislation capable of earning support from that Gang of 60.

But before we can cross those bridges, we have to build them — with a strong foundation forged by bipartisan collaboration, mutual respect and a commitment to compromise in service of the greater good.

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