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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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April 18th, 2013
05:34 PM ET

McCain on immigration bill: Yes, we can deliver the votes

A bipartisan group of senators, the so-called "Gang of Eight," unveiled a new immigration bill this week, formally filing legislation calling for border security as the cornerstone of immigration reform.

But many are skeptical the bill will secure the border in any substantive way.

Most Americans will support a balanced approach to legal immigration, said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, "but only if they believe we'll secure the border and not have a third wave of illegal immigration. So, I'm willing to do that, and I think most of my colleagues on the Democratic side are willing to do that."

People making their way across the border recently in the hopes of benefiting from the immigration reform bill will be disappointed.

"Anyone who came after December 31, 2011 will not be eligible for this legalized status and eventual path to citizenship," said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

Asked if he believes he can deliver the 60 votes needed to pass the bill, McCain replied, "Yes, I believe we can."

Also this week, the U.S. Senate voted down what would have been a historic, albeit pretty moderate extension to the country's gun laws Wednesday, defeating a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales, as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords penned an op-ed in The New York Times Thursday, calling the senators who voted against the measure "cowards."

"Some of the senators who voted 'no' have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago... These senators have heard from their constituents – who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them," Giffords wrote.

McCain was one of just six Republicans to vote 'yes.' McCain said he did not feel pressure to vote against the bill, but Schumer hinted that other colleagues may have.

"Unfortunately in many, many states, the more rural states, some of the gun organizations have made people afraid of any gun legislation, as they claim each one will lead to the taking away of your gun," said Schumer.

"This bill only affects people who are felons, who are adjudicated mentally ill, who are spousal abusers. If you're a law-abiding gun owner, this isn't going to interfere with your rights," added Schumer.

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