Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the current federal budget battle could present an opportunity for a “grand bargain” between Republicans and Democrats, asserting that it's time to reform Medicare and other entitlements.
As a guest on Fox News Sunday, the number two Democrat in the Senate also managed to get in a political jab at Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“The Paul Ryan voucher approach is destructive of Medicare, it won’t survive,” Durbin said. “Millions of Americans would lose their benefits. But there are ways to approach it, to reduce the costs of medical care and still keep our promise to seniors across America.”
In the near term, Congress must pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government past March 27.
The House has approved its plan, and Durbin indicated the Senate could follow suit this week, but he urged his colleagues to stop weighing down the Senate version with amendments. While he didn't go into specifics as to what spending the Senate plan would authorize, he thought it would be found acceptable by the House.
Durbin said lawmakers continue to make headway on immigration reform.
Durbin is part of a bipartisan group of eight Senators developing a national immigration plan and said a number of hurdles remain.
“There are several problems,” Durbin said. “We’re dealing with border enforcement, which is very important on the Republicans’ side of the table. We're dealing with the question of the 11 million people paying their taxes having a path to legalization, then ultimately to citizenship, tough issues, but we're coming together and I think we can do it, I have a positive feeling”
Durbin declined to give a timeline as to when the group would produce its final plan.