In a statement on the Senate floor this morning, Republican leader Mitch McConnell signaled he'd vote for cloture for the immigration bill. But he also suggested the bill needs to be amended.
"The Gang of Eight has done its work. Now it’s time for the Gang of 100 to do its work — for the entire Senate to have its say on this issue, and see if we can do something to improve the status quo. At the risk of stating the obvious, this bill has serious flaws," McConnell said, then suggesting he'd vote for cloture, the motion to proceed.
“I’ll vote to debate it and for the opportunity to amend it, but in the days ahead there will need to be major changes to this bill if it’s going to become law. These include, but are not limited to, the areas of border security, government benefits, and taxes."
McConnell then says he'll look to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for more than an "assurance":
“I’m going to need more than an assurance from Secretary Napolitano, for instance, that the border is secure to feel comfortable about the situation on the border. Too often recently, we have been reminded that as government grows it becomes less responsible to the American people, and fails to perform basic functions either through incompetence or willful disregard of the wishes of Congress. Our continued failure to secure major portions of the border not only makes true immigration reform far more difficult; it presents an urgent threat to national security.
“Some have also criticized this bill for its cost to taxpayers. It’s a fair critique. Those who were here illegally shouldn’t have their unlawful status rewarded with benefits and tax credits. So this bill has some serious flaws. And we need to be serious about fixing them. The goal here should be to make the status quo better, not worse. And that’s what the next few weeks are about: they’re about giving the entire Senate, and indeed, the entire country, an opportunity to weigh in on this debate, to make their voices heard, and try to improve our immigration policy. And that means an open amendment process.
“But let me be clear: doing nothing about a problem we all acknowledge isn’t a solution. It’s an avoidance strategy. And the longer we wait to have this debate, as difficult as it is, the harder it’ll be to solve the problem.
“We tried to do something six years ago, and didn’t succeed. We may not succeed this time either. But attempting to solve tough problems in a serious and deliberate manner is precisely what the Senate, at its best, should do. And it’s what we’re going to try to do in this debate.”