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Congress: Gang of Eight announces its plan

“The Senate’s Gang of Eight delivered an immigration overhaul bill this week that was far more generous to their constituencies than Democrats and Hispanic activists expected,” Politico writes.

NBC’s Carrie Dann: “With dueling press conferences, fact-checking wars and talk radio bonanzas, the fight over immigration reform seemed to finally begin in earnest on Thursday as the Senate’s bipartisan ‘Gang of Eight’ formally presented their compromise legislation to overhaul the way immigrants come to live and work in the United States.”

More from Dann: “Appearing alongside allies from tax cut advocate Grover Norquist to AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, the legislators – four Republicans and four Democrats – formally unveiled their long-awaited proposal with promises of an open amendment process and pugnacious pledges to beat those would defeat it outright. ‘I believe that this is ours to lose,’ said Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York and one of the chief authors of the legislation… ‘I’m going to fight for this bill,’ [Sen. Lindsey Graham] said.  ‘If you’ve got a better idea, bring it on. But if you want to kill it, we’re going to have a talk about that.’”

“Sen. Marco Rubio tried to sell his immigration plan on Thursday to conservative talk radio hosts gathered from around the country in D.C., but it just didn’t fly,” Politico notes. “Rubio sat down for interviews with four right-wing talkers at the Federation of American Immigration Reform’s annual immigration “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row in Washington — and each said they were not convinced by the senator’s pitch. As in 2007, when conservative talk show hosts helped mobilize opposition to immigration reform and blasted it as an amnesty program, local radio talkers have proven they can turn the tide against legislation. And with Rubio’s conservative media blitz on Thursday, it’s clear he knows it would help the outcome of the bill to get this crowd on his side. But that didn’t happen today, the hosts said.”

NBC’s Megan Neunan reports: Senators who voted against the Manchin-Toomey amendment to gun control legislation, yesterday, took to the Twitter-verse in droves to explain their votes.  Reasoning, for the most part, reflected the same issues laced through the gun control debate since December: my state does not want this, a national gun registry is the next step, gun control legislation is not what Americans are most passionate about, and the focus should be on mental health instead of guns.  One trend: the lawmakers who broke from their party on the measure – with a couple of exceptions, including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and the co-author of the amendment Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. – were quiet today on the social media platform.

Here’s what some senators said via Twitter…

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.: “Second Amendment freedoms are part of our way of life in Wyoming. Gun control votes coming today in Senate.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.: “Voted against Toomey-Manchin background check amdmt ‘b/c it could easily evolve into a national gun registry”; amdmt failed in the Senate”

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK: “Law-abiding gun owners don’t want to sell guns to illegal aliens, child sex abusers, or felons.”

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS: “@GallupNews poll: ‘Economy’ is the #1 issue for Americans, Jobs #2. #GunControl? It’s #9 at 4 percent. #protect2a”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who broke from her party to vote against Manchin-Toomey: “This conversation should be about what is in people’s minds, not about what is in their hands.”

After the failed background-check vote in the Senate, many focused -- including us -- on the difficulty that Democrats have in obtaining 60 Senate votes from just the blue states. But National Journal’s Ron Brownstein looks at the flip side of the issue: The vote highlighted the GOP’s electoral-vote deficit in presidential elections. “The amendment drew unified support from both senators in 21 states representing 261 Electoral College votes. By contrast, both senators opposed the amendment in 17 states representing just 146 Electoral College votes. Senators from the remaining 12 states, with a combined 128 Electoral College votes, split their vote on the amendment.” In other words, the GOP’s red-state/small state/rural state advantage can prevent Democrats from getting 60 Senate votes, but it also shows its state disadvantage in being able to get 270 EVs in presidential elections.

In her latest Cook Political Report column, Amy Walter argues why it’s so hard to get “common-sense” reforms through Congress. Her answer: “short term political gain is rewarded more than long-term strategic planning.”