McCain: Next few weeks a ‘critical time in the life or death’ of immigration reform

U.S. Senator John McCain gestures as he arrives to address the third session of the Republican National Convention in TampaFrom, By Rebecca Shabad, 08/27/13 – Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of the members of the “Gang of Eight” who  crafted immigration reform legislation in the Senate, said Tuesday that the time  following the House of Representatives’ return from summer recess will be  critical “in the life or death” of immigration reform.

McCain discussed the bill at a town-hall meeting with his junior colleague,  Sen. Jeff Flake, (R) in their home state at a roundtable focused on the issue,  hosted by The Arizona Republic, 12 News, and

Flake is another member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” which also  includes Sens. Michael Bennet, (D-Colo.), Dick Durbin, (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham,  (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez, (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), and Charles Schumer,  (D-N.Y.). The group wrote and championed the immigration reform bill through the  upper chamber in June. The final vote was 68-32.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he won’t take it up in the House.

“I remain guardedly optimistic,” McCain said about the House advancing  immigration reform. The senator said he hopes the House will pass legislation so  the two chambers can go to conference and compromise on a single bill that will  eventually go to the president.

Flake made clear that he and McCain never thought the House would consider  the Senate’s version as is.

“The bill became much better when it went through the Judiciary Committee,”  Flake said. “It became better when it went through the Senate floor. I hope the  House improves it.”

President Obama said earlier this month that the Senate version must pass the  GOP-controlled House.

Enhanced border security, an E-Verify system for employers and a pathway to  citizenship for immigrants already living illegally in the United States are  some of the notable provisions of the comprehensive bill, which is more than  1,000 pages.

Over the next decade, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO)  predicts the legislation would lead to more than 10 million additional people  living in the United States. The CBO also projects the bill would decrease the  federal budget deficit by $197 billion.

“It’s not a perfect piece of legislation, but I do believe that this is a  compromise in some cases that all of us can support,” McCain said.

Flake said he’s going to visit the U.S.’s southern border tomorrow.

–This report was updated at 3:59 p.m.

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