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The Daily Rundown
updated 6/19/2013 6:17:56 AM ET 2013-06-19T10:17:56

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat, called for the United States to take swift action in Syria and shared concerns surrounding NSA leaks.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon on amendments to a bipartisan immigration bill, but many have been wary of how quickly the Senate will be able to vote on a comprehensive reform package. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey says he’s confident a vote will happen by Independence Day.

“I really do believe we will pass comprehensive immigration reform. I think we will do it by the Fourth of July recess,” Menendez said on Tuesday’s The Daily Rundown.

“I can see a pathway forward,” said Menendez, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a leader of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, has said that he believes the current legislation needs stricter border security measures. But Menendez believes that the current bill already has tough border security measures.

“I believe we have the toughest boarder security provisions in this legislation, $6.5 billion, largely devised by senators from the border states who experience this challenge every day,” said Menendez.

Menendez said that he believes the United States must act quickly in Syria as rebels have been more clearly defined.

“From every account, we have a good idea of a universe of opposition forces who would be aligned with us. Then it seems to me that it is time to move vigorously forward. We obviously need to tip the scales in order to achieve a political solution.  And we can’t do it under the present circumstances,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s too late to affect an outcome,” added Menendez.

The Democratic senator also argued that Edward Snowden’s actions in leaking classified NSA information on surveillance activities may be dangerous for our national security.

“If this individual keeps leaking vital national security information from the United States, he puts our people abroad at risk and he puts people at home here at risk,” said Menendez.

“The terrorists only have to get lucky once; we have to get it right 100% of the time. Those are tough odds. So we need to be able to have every asset in order to defend the American people but with the appropriate checks and balances to ensure that privacy is not invaded,” he added.

Video: Sen. Menendez on Syria: ‘We need to tip the scales’

  1. Closed captioning of: Sen. Menendez on Syria: ‘We need to tip the scales’

    >>> we have a legitimate need to be engaged and to be involved. but for us to do it in a careful, calibrated way sometimes is unsatisfying. what people really typically want is a clean solution, a silver bullet , here is what we're going to do and we just move forward.

    >> that's president obama arguing for a go slow approach when it comes to helping syrian rebels even when we recognize short of demands from capitol hill . the rebels themselves for significant aid. senator menendez on the foreign relations committee joining us from capitol hill . senator menendez , thank you for your time. are you satisfied with the president's handling of the crisis in syria ?

    >> look, i think the president is right in terms of who are those opposition forces that would largely share our values in terms of what we would like to see in syria . it took time to figure this out. now from every account we have a good idea of a universe of opposition forces who would be aligned with us. then it seems to me that it is time to move vigorously forward. we obviously need to tip the scales in order to acheese a political solution. we can't do it under circumstances and our violation national security interests are at stake.

    >> the move vigorously forward, you yourself said six weeks ago that the president -- the red line had been crossed. you offered a bill at that time to begin arguing syrian rebels. i guess the question is now has the president waited too long to act? is it too late to turn the tide in syria ?

    >> i don't think it's too late to affect an outcome, particularly when we talk about getting us to a point in which assad, who is doing very well on the ground now unfortunately, sees a recalibration. his patroncy. then we can receive a political solution. to do that, have you to stop assad from having a monopoly on air power and artillery. that means leading with our allies both in the gulf region as well as in europe to be able to pursue a course of action that helps rebels fight for themselves and achieve the opportunity, be able to realize the political solution we want to see.

    >> let me ask briefly about intelligence leaks, the leaker edward snowden says, in his language, more truth is coming. how concerned about you about whatever classified information snowden may be planning to reveal next?

    >> look, i think it's harmful to the national security of the united states . i've always said i believe the terrorist only have to get lucky once. we have to get it right as a country 100% of the time. those are tough odds. we need to be able to have every asset in order to defend the american people but with the appropriate checks and balances to ensure their privacy is not invade. if you're not speaking to a terrorist abroad, i don't think you should have concern from everything i know about this program. if this individual keeps leaking vital national security information from the united states , he puts our people abroad at risk and puts people at home here at risk.

    >> speaking of here at home, i want to talk about the issue of immigration. what is your confidence level immigration reform can get a senate vote by july 4st? then the question would be, what if it doesn't?

    >> i believe we will pass comprehensive immigration reform . i think we'll do it by the fourth of july recess. as we continue to meet with the gang of eight and others who are interested, i can see where we get to those votes and i can see a pathway forward. then the question will be, does speaker boehner and the house actually want to see comprehensive immigration reform as poll after poll of the american people says they do.

    >> obviously there's challenges on the senate side. senator rubio, a member of the gang of eight, said border security needs to be addressed. you've expressed concern that could be an excuse to block the whole bill. the committee has been frustrated with senator rubio at times. are you afraid that issue could derail this whole thing?

    >> i do not. i believe we have the toughest border security provisions in this legislation, $6.5 billion largely devised by senators from the border states who experience this challenge every day. i believe we are open to legitimate efforts to improve that, to have greater specificity in legislation. but what we are not open to is having a trigger that ultimately undermines the pathway to citizenship because that's a vital part of reform.

    >> just to reiterate, before july 4th , right, senator?

    >> i certainly believe so. i think we can get there. i think it's important to do so.

    >> all right. senator menendez , we appreciate your time today. thank you.

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