Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday he was optimistic the Senate’s bipartisan work on immigration reform could pave the way to other agreements.
In an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Durbin said that despite frustration over deadlocked sequester talks, the Gang of 8 could be a model for bipartisan cooperation in the upper chamber.
The Illinois Democrat has served in Congress since 1997 and said that this is the most gridlocked he can remember the legislative body.
“I don't want to point fingers here, but I will,” Durbin told host Bob Schieffer. “The House Republicans approach to this is, we're either going to do this exclusively with Republicans or we're not going to do it at all.”
“We're trying to establish a new standard in the Senate: A bipartisan dialogue that may result in a solution,” he added. “If the House could embrace the same basic concept I am certain -- certain -- the president would sit down and work with them in good faith to get us through this.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has criticized the Senate for not passing legislation to thwart the $85 billion in sequestration cuts, which took effect Friday.
Last week, Boehner accused President Obama of “going all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders.”
The House, he added, has moved two bills through the House and “we should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.”
Durbin, however, said on Sunday that Americans deserve a Congress that can work together.
“The American people over the last two years plus have been watching Washington lurch from threatened government shutdown to threatened economic shutdowns,” he said. “Unfortunately in three weeks we face another one.”
By March 27, Congress must agree on a Continuing Resolution, which funds the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year.
“It creates an opportunity for us to sit down… and come up with an answer that is sensible,” Durbin said. “What we need to do is put everything on the table, so that we can avoid manufactured crises like the one we're in right now.”