South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham predicted an overwhelming victory for immigration reform on the eve of the crucial Senate vote, telling host Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday that nearly 70 senators planned to vote “yes.”
“The bill will pass. I think we are on the verge of getting 70 votes. That is my goal. It’s always been my goal,” Graham said. “The Hoeven-Corker Amendment I think gets us over the top.”
The Hoeven-Corker amendment, written by Republican Sens. John Hoeven and Bob Corker, replaced the original bill the Gang of Eight with duplicated sections and several new provisions that made significant changes to the first draft. The changes included a “border surge” that would massively increase the number of full-time active duty border patrol agents.
Republicans initially doubted that President Barack Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano would faithfully execute the laws regarding border enforcement, but the Hoeven-Corker amendment may have assuaged those worries, according to The Washington Examiner.
Graham also warned that the GOP would suffer electoral consequences if the party did not throw its full weight behind the bill, implying that the growth of the party depended how effectively the GOP could bring Hispanics into its ranks.
“If it fails and we are blamed for its failure, our party is in trouble with Hispanics, not because we are conservative, but because of the rhetoric and the way we handled this issue,” Graham said. “I want to get reattached to the Hispanic community, to sell conservatism, pass comprehensive immigration reform and grow this party. The party has got to be bigger than Utah and South Carolina. The Hispanic community is close to our values but we have driven them away over this issue.”
Graham’s sense of urgency is shared by Democrats as well. Democrat Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro echoed Graham’s concerns on Monday, telling MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that passing immigration reform becomes a “a lot tougher” in the 2014 election year.
“We’re hoping that the momentum once that passes will carry over to the House, and the House will take action,” Castro added.
The Senate votes on the immigration reform bill Monday evening.