Durbin Talks Background Checks, Immigration Reform | St. Louis Public Radio

Durbin Talks Background Checks, Immigration Reform

Apr 14, 2013

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is unsure whether there are enough Democratic votes to pass a bipartisan plan to expand background checks before guns sales.  The Senate Majority Whip said he has yet to conduct a count. 

But as a guest on Fox News Sunday, he said moving the plan through the Senate would be a step in the right direction. 

“When it gets down to it, we have to ask the basic question: Should we try to keep guns out of the hands of felons and people so mentally unstable they shouldn’t own a firearm?  If the answer is yes, then Manchin-Toomey is a step in that direction.”

Senate Minority Whip, John Cornyn (R-Texas), joined Durbin on the Sunday morning talk show.

Cornyn did not say whether there were enough votes to block the background check plan.  Instead, he indicated that the solution to gun violence should start with bolstering mental health services. 

Immigration Reform

Durbin joined other members of the so-called “Gang of Eight” in making the Sunday talk show rounds to promote their bipartisan immigration plan, set to be unveiled this week.

As a guest on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said under the bill people in the country illegally could eventually apply for citizenship after ten years.  No benefits, however, could be collected before 15 years, with the clock starting after the bill becomes law. 

"No federal benefits, no food stamps, no welfare, no ‘Obamacare,’" Rubio said

Durbin followed Rubio, and said beefed up boarder security was a lynchpin to securing Republican support.

“Every Republican at the table said, ‘we’ve got to start with border security.  Get that right and we’ll stick around for the rest of the conversation,’” Durbin said.  “I think we’ve kept faith on that issue.”

The plan calls for the Department of Homeland Security to ensure its monitoring the entire Mexican border and detain 90 percent of the people who cross illegally.

Durbin wants a little wiggle room in how that requirement is monitored, saying that they would work with local officials and that the plan shouldn’t be nullified if some of the enforcement numbers are off by a point or two.

Cornyn said he’s open to immigration reform, but needs to read the bill first.

“So much of it is regaining the public’s confidence that the federal government is actually doing its job,” Cornyn said. 

Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd