3:16 pm Feb. 17, 20133
On Sunday morning, Chuck Schumer shrugged off a weekend leak from the White House that showed the administration is sketching its own left-leaning legislation to address immigration reform.
"I know that Senator [Marco] Rubio was upset with this leak," said Schumer on CNN's "State of the Union." Asked if he was upset too, Schumer replied, "No, I am not upset."
Schumer and President Obama have undergone a role reversal in recent weeks, with Schumer now playing the part of the bipartisan consensus builder, while the president pushes the debate from the left flank.
And while Republicans decried the leak as meddlesome and unhelpful, it might just bolster Schumer's position in negotiating a compromise bill, by clearly demonstrating to Republicans what a Democratic alternative might look like.
According to USA Today, which viewed parts of the bill, the president's plan would allow illegal immigrants to become permanent residents within eight years, a shorter timeline than the compromise sketch, and would increase border patrol officers, but without the border security requirements that Republicans have demanded as a precondition for any reforms.
Schumer said he didn't know how the leak occurred, but stressed "that it wasn't [the administration's] final or complete bill," and praised the president for giving Congress room to craft its own compromise.
Rubio declared the president's bill would be "dead on arrival," which seemed to be the point.
"He says it’s dead on arrival if it’s proposed," said Denis McDonough, the president's new chief of staff on ABC's "This Week."
"Well, let’s make sure that it doesn’t have to be proposed," McDonough continued. "Let’s make sure that that group up there, the gang of eight, makes good progress on these efforts, as much as they say they want to, and that’s exactly what we intend to do, to work with them.”
McDonough, who appeared on three shows Sunday morning, said the administration was simply ensuring it had a plan in case the congressional talks failed.
"We are doing exactly what we said we would do," he said on "Meet the Press." (Chris Wallace, the host of "Fox News Sunday" complained that the administration declined an offer for McDonough to appear on his show.)
Other Republicans suspected they were being set up.
"Leaks don't happen in Washington by accident," said Sen. John McCain, who said Republicans have had no contact with the president on the issue.
"This is the president torpedoing his own plan and shows me that he's really not serious," said Sen. Rand Paul on "Fox News Sunday."
"There are many people who think Democrats bring up these ideas as wedge issues," said Paul." They don't really ever want to pass them because then they'd no longer have the Republicans to blame. So, really, they set themselves up for failure by putting something up as untenable."
But Schumer sounds very much like someone trying to succeed, and said the group was planning to have a bill ready next month.
"The only way we're going to get something done is with a bipartisan agreement," Schumer said. "So I'm happy with the president, who's given us the space, and I'm optimistic we can get something done."
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