WASHINGTON -- Members of the Senate "gang of eight" met with pro-immigration reform business, agriculture, faith and conservative groups on Tuesday to discuss plans for moving a comprehensive bill forward in the House, where many Republicans have vowed not to touch it.
They distributed a list (see below) of 121 Republicans whom they see as persuadable on immigration reform. Groups in attendance included Republicans for Immigration Reform, the Mark Zuckerberg-founded FWD.us, the faith group Sojourners and others, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting. The list largely aligns with the targets of other reform groups.
Seven members of the group that crafted the Senate immigration bill were present: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) decided not to attend, said spokesman Alex Conant.
"We have a badly broken immigration system that is in dire need of reform, and Sen. Rubio worked hard to produce and pass the best proposal possible in a Democrat-controlled Senate," Conant said in an email. "The Senate's work has created an important opportunity for the House to advance reform further, but they should be given deference to decide their own way forward."
After the gang of eight bill passed 68 to 32 in the Senate with "aye" votes from 14 Republicans, it's been met with little interest -- and some hostility -- from House Republicans, many of whom say its legalization measures are a deal-breaker. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he will not bring the Senate bill to the floor because a majority of his conference opposes it, and he will instead pursue piecemeal legislation.
Pro-reform groups hope they can put pressure on Republicans to come around to the idea of comprehensive reform, particularly using allies in the faith, business and conservative communities.
View the full list of GOP targets:
Jaime Herrera Beutler
Cathy McMorris Rodgers