Immigration bill may not even make it out of the Senate
The "Gang of Eight" version of immigration reform is in trouble and New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez is questioning whether it will even pass the Senate.
The bill won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 13-5 vote, but Menendez said it lacks the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate -- despite the bill's four Republican co-sponsors.
"We don't currently have 60 votes identified in the Senate," Menendez said in an interview with Univision. "We need to add more votes on the floor. That means that the community in your state, in every state, should be contacting your state's two U.S. Senators saying that they want comprehensive immigration reform, that they are going to judge their political future based on this vote."
Supporters of the bill are pushing for a strong bipartisan vote of 70 or more to put pressure on the House to take up the legislation.
In addition to the four GOP co-sponsors, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) voted for the bill in committee, though he has not committed his support in the floor vote.
Menendez said he was "optimistic" that the bipartisan coalition could cobble together the super-majority the bill will need to get through the Senate. The New Jersey Democrat said he expected a lengthy debate period, likely starting when Congress reconvenes the week of June 10 and potentially stretching to the Fourth of July break.
"I believe that in those three weeks we can get the necessary votes and we will have the community," he said. "We are expecting that and working for that."