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Gang of 8 oozes confidence on immigration bill

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By Reuters
Sunday, March 31, 2013, 8:24 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — With business and labor now in agreement, a bipartisan group of senators has resolved all major issues in a pending deal to overhaul the immigration system and aims to introduce it after Congress reconvenes in the second week of April, key lawmakers said on Sunday.

The lawmakers said that while there was no final deal yet, they hope — and even expect — there to be one soon after the measure is put into legislative language so all eight senators in the bipartisan group can review it.

The Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO reached an elusive agreement on a guest worker program late Friday, clearing the way for the writing of a full bill.

The bill will include an earned pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, bolstered border security and ways for business to meet the need for both high-skilled and low-skilled workers.

“With the agreement between business and labor, every major policy issue has been resolved,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and a leader of the so-called Gang of Eight, which has four Democrats and four Republicans.

“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,” Schumer told NBC's “Meet the Press.”

But Schumer added, “I don't think any of us expect there to be problems.”

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, another member of the group, also appeared on “Meet the Press” and said: “We're committed to this if we can get the language right.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another member of the group, said: “I think we've got a deal.

“There are a few details yet,” he said on CNN's “State of the Union” program. “But conceptually we have an agreement between business and labor, between ourselves that has to be drafted. It will be rolled out next week.”

Graham voiced confidence that the bill eventually would be approved by the Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House of Representatives — provided President Obama, as expected, actively rallies support for it.

The Gang of Eight initially planned to have a bill by the end of March, but now plans to introduce it the week of April 8, when Congress returns from a two-week recess.

Republican Sen.Marco Rubio of Florida, another member of the Gang of Eight and a potential 2016 White House contender, said the senators had made “substantial progress” on a deal, but were not yet finished.

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