Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Finding a 'Gang of 60'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Finding a 'Gang of 60'

Article excerpt

When it comes to solving big problems, the road to success is paved by bipartisan goodwill.

My good friend, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, recently echoed that sentiment when he said that "the Gang of Six must now become the Gang of 60." He was referring to our working group of three Democrats and three Republicans, which recently reached a compromise to protect 800,000 "Dreamers" from deportation – including 22,000 here in New Jersey.

Our plan was built on good-faith negotiations and old-fashioned compromise. It provided Dreamers with a 12-year path to citizenship in the only country they've ever called home, while devoting billions of dollars to border security and making adjustments to the family reunification process.

However, Senator Graham's call for a Gang of 60 also spoke to a larger truth about the Senate's identity as "the world's greatest deliberative body." Ever since 1806, when New Jerseyan Aaron Burr accidentally helped change a Senate rule to allow the minority to block the majority rule, this institution has worked best when we build consensus. Unlike the House of Representatives, which operates on a simple majority, the Senate requires at least 60 votes to consider a bill for final passage.

I still believe if brought to the floor, the Gang of Six compromise would surpass that coveted 60-vote threshold. After all, the same week it was rejected by President Trump, we had 56 senators on board. Now, with the deadline to protect America's Dreamers just around the corner, we must make another good-faith effort to reach an agreement capable of securing 60 votes in the Senate, a simple majority in the House of Representatives, and President Trump's signature.

Reaching such an agreement will not be easy, but I know it is possible. I saw it happen in 2013 when the Senate passed the comprehensive immigration reform bill I helped craft with the Gang of Eight. That measure went far beyond the DREAM Act to include huge reforms to modernize our entire immigration system and bring 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.

Throughout my career in Congress, I've strived to build bipartisan consensus on the big issues of the day. While leading the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I worked to bring Republicans and Democrats together to craft our responses to major global crises – like the sanctions we passed to punish Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

That's also how Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and I were able to pass the Autism CARES Act through the Senate with unanimous support. That bill incorporated some provisions – but not all – of my own bill to help individuals with autism as they grow into adulthood and lose eligibility for school-based support programs. By working together, we achieved a landmark victory for millions of families affected by autism not just in New Jersey but across America. …

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