Paul Embracing Role as 'Conduit' to Try to Forge Immigration Agreement

WASHINGTON – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Wednesday he would support an immigration bill if senators accept his amendments to the legislation, but will not vote on the immigration reform package as it stands because of the need for tougher provisions on border security.

Paul, who is considered a swing vote on immigration reform, referred to himself a few days ago as the “conduit” between conservatives in the House who oppose immigration reform and his Senate counterparts in favor of it.

“I am the conduit between conservatives in the House who don’t want a lot of these things and more moderate people in the Senate who do want these things,” Paul said on Fox News Sunday. “They’re going to have to come to me and they’re going to have to work with me to make the bill stronger if they want me to vote for it.”

Paul was among the majority of senators who voted Tuesday to move the immigration bill to debate. He said the Senate bill “is not there yet” but he is open to discussions with the bill’s supporters on what it would take to win his support.

“My suggestion to those in the Senate who are in charge of the bill is come to people like me who want to vote for it, but who are not quite there yet, and say to us, ‘What would it take to bring you along?’” Paul told reporters Wednesday after an event organized by the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

The Kentucky Republican plans to introduce a set of amendments intended to make the plan more appealing to those on the other side of Capitol Hill. Paul’s proposal, which he plans to file next week, aims to create a specific plan to secure the border.

"If you want this to happen, you've got to bridge the Senate and the House," he said during the event. "I'm sort of in between where the Senate and House is, but not yet ready to vote for the Senate bill unless they're willing to listen to people who say let's make the border secure."

Paul said that this proposal, called “Trust but Verify,” would make the comprehensive legislation more palatable to Republicans. Paul’s set of amendments makes immigration reform contingent upon an annual vote by Congress judging whether the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is making progress on border security.

“This is the real part of my amendment that makes the bill stronger: We vote each year on whether the border is becoming more secure,” Paul said.