Graham, Durbin suggest tacking immigration policy onto government spending bill

WASHINGTON — Sens. Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham said they believe the Senate can reach a consensus on immigration policy, possibly as part of the year-end government funding bill.

Durbin, D-Illinois, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he believes Graham could be a part of a bipartisan coalition to pass legislation that would increase border security and legalize the immigration status of individuals who came into the United States illegally as children.

“I can tell you, when it comes to border security, we have signed up for that,” Durbin said. “Sen. (Chuck) Schumer said that months ago. We believe that there are aspects of border security that Democrats and Republicans can agree on.”

And Graham, R-South Carolina, suggested an agreement on border security and so-called “DREAMers” could be tacked onto the government spending bill.

“We need border security, so there’s a deal to be done,” Graham said. “Dick’s right about this. For the DREAM Act, I think you could get strong border security and a break in chain migration. If you could put those three things together, put it on the end-of-the-year spending bill, that would be a heck of an accomplishment for 2017.”

But Graham prefaced his remarks by outlining where he will and will not make concessions.

“Well, the way I look at the end-of-the-year bill is a chance to do some good for the country as a whole, starting by funding the Defense Department more adequately,” Graham said. “I’m not going to vote for a bill that doesn’t increase defense spending dramatically. And I’m willing to increase non-defense spending of the NIH, the Corps of Engineers, the FBI, the CIA.”

Durbin and Graham remained flexible as to whether the immigration deal would decide their votes. If Congress is unable to pass a spending bill by midnight on December 8, the government will shut down.

When he was asked if a government shutdown is possible over immigration, Graham said: “In Congress, anything is possible.”