Schumer: ‘Every major policy issue’ resolved in immigration discussions

March 31, 2013

The Senate's third-ranking Democrat said Sunday that the bipartisan Senate group working on an effort to reform the nation's immigration laws has resolved all major policy issues.

"With the agreement between business and labor, every major policy issue has been resolved on the 'Gang of Eight,'" Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is a member of the bipartisan group working on a broad overhaul, said on NBC News's "Meet The Press." "Now, everyone, we've all agreed that we're not going to come to a final agreement until we see draft legislative language and we agree on that. We drafted some of it already, the rest of it will be drafted this week."

Business and labor leaders reached an agreement Friday on terms of a new guest-worker program, an issue that had been viewed as the last major matter over which the bipartisan group had yet to come to terms.

But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) another member of the bipartisan group, said Sunday that a final deal had not been struck. "Reports that the bipartisan group of eight senators have agreed on a legislative proposal are premature," said Rubio in a statement.

Schumer, who said he was "very optimistic" that the so-called "Gang of Eight" would have a deal next week, chalked up any perceived daylight between himself and Rubio to "semantics," and sought to downplay the possibility of disagreement.

"As Senator Rubio correctly says, we have said we will not come to final agreement till we look at all of the legislative language," said Schumer. "And he's correctly pointing out that that language hasn't been fully drafted. There'll be little kerfuffles.  But I don't think any of us expect there to be problems."

Two other Republicans in the "Gang of Eight" expressed optimism Sunday that the group was moving toward a final agreement.

“I think we’ve got a deal, and we’ve got to write the legislation,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on CNN's "State of The Union."

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was a bit more cautious. "We're much closer with labor and business agreeing on this guest-worker plan," he said on "Meet The Press," before adding, "we have still got a ways to go in terms of looking at the language in and making sure that it's everything we thought it would be."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · March 31, 2013