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Schumer: We Know Cornyn's Game, Won't Let His Poison Pill Stop Immigration Reform

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Earlier today, as we noted, Majority Leader Harry Reid said:

I am concerned that some who oppose the very idea of reform see these triggers as a backdoor way to undermine the legislation. And I believe some Republicans with no intention of voting for the final bill – regardless of how it is amended – seek to offer these amendments with the sole purpose of derailing this vital reform.

It’s very clear to us that one of the Senators who has no intention of voting for reform but is offering poison pill amendments to kill the bill is John Cornyn.

Today, we learn that Senator Chuck Schumer understands the game Cornyn is playing. He’s seen it before — as has Frank Sharry, Executive Director here at America’s Voice.  Schumer is shutting down the idea that Democrats are looking at Cornyn’s amendment as anything other than a poison pill — because that’s what it is.

From TPM’s Brian Beutler: 

Democrats want it to be crystal clear. They don’t think Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is crucial to passing immigration reform. So they aren’t negotiating with him over his non-starter amendment to make a pathway to citizenship contingent upon establishing an unrealistic border security regime.

An article published by National Journal quotes Cornyn claiming Democrats are “talking to me” about his amendment, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has called a “poison pill,” and suggesting it’s an indication that they lack 60 votes to pass the broader bill.

But in unreported remarks Wednesday morning at a “Bibles, Badges and Business” event in downtown Washington, D.C., Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the leading Democratic immigration reform bill negotiator, implicitly disputed Cornyn’s claim — and a source close to Schumer, who provided the quote, says Cornyn’s characterization is false.

“We cannot accept the Cornyn amendment,” Schumer said. “I’ve told John that already. The way it would change the triggers would jeopardize the path to citizenship. You should tell the people you’re lobbying that that is not going to happen. There may be other amendments dealing with the border that we can accept but not that one.”

The source close to Schumer adds, “Schumer likes Cornyn a lot personally, but he spent the first two years after President Obama’s election in 2008 trying to work with Cornyn on an immigration reform bill. He’s impossible to get to ‘yes’ on this issue.”

On the Senate floor Monday night, Schumer told Cornyn “you know full well that [your amendment is] a deal killer,” and that other Republicans are kicking around border security ideas that might ultimately be amenable to Democrats. But because Democrats don’t consider Cornyn’s vote gettable, there have been no staff- or member-level discussions since then.

Cornyn is impossible to get to yes on immigration reform. His goal is to block the path to citizenship and kill reform. Fortunately, Senate Democrats (and we suspect some of Cornyn’s fellow Republicans) are on to him.