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Thune says ‘no way’ Senate can pass an immigration plan this week

By Morgan Rimmer, CNN

Senate Minority Whip John Thune told CNN’s Manu Raju on Monday that there is no way the Senate can vote on an immigration deal this week, meaning aid for Ukraine and Israel will not pass either.

“That is a fact, yeah. There’s no way,” he said.

Senators have been negotiating in search of a deal over tightening immigration policy in order to unlock support for billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine and Israel, but after weeks of talks and delaying the start of the Senate’s winter recess by a week, a deal has so far eluded negotiators.

Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, noted that he believes they could eventually get a deal, but said that they need more time, blaming Democrats and the White House for taking too long to respond to GOP proposals.

“I think it can, it’s unfortunate it took them this long to engage. We put our proposal out there the first week in November, and we’ve been waiting since then for the Democrats to react, the White House finally got engaged last week,” Thune said. “I mean, some of the stuff has some degree of complexity to it, but in the end, it’s all about policies that will stem the flow at the southern border, and getting Democrats to come around, work with us to make that happen. But I don’t think that’s going to happen this week.”

Thune also pushed back on former President Donald Trump’s comments that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.”

“My grandfather’s an immigrant, so that’s not a view I share. We’re a nation of immigrants, but we are a nation of laws and we’ve got to enforce the law,” Thune said. “I mean, we have legal pathways to get people here, having people come in the way they are right now, just in droves across the southern border, and in many cases a lot of unsavory characters getting into the country that way, it’s just wrong and needs to be fixed.”

Pressed on whether Trump’s rhetoric could make it more difficult to pass any sort of compromise immigration legislation, Thune replied, “That could happen, but I think in the end, as long as we get what we believe are the right policies in place, that will address right now what is a runaway train at the southern border, and change the signals we’re sending.”

He continued, “Right now, everything is a pull factor, everything is pulling people into the country. We’ve got to get people to realize if they want to get into the country there are legal ways to do it. And that’s got to change. So if that happens, hopefully we can get the necessary votes in the Senate and in the House to move something, irrespective of what others may say about it.”

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