Schumer later recounted that Graham said, "The band is back, let's do immigration" and told him McCain was on board. "And my heart went pitter patter," Schumer said in telling the anecdote at a breakfast hosted by Politico in January.
The senators worked to round up others. Flake said Schumer approached him during Congress' lame-duck session.
"I said I just always wanted to be part of a gang. I grew up in Snowflake, Ariz., the South side didn't offer much," Flake said.
Rubio had been shopping his own immigration proposals that dovetailed with what the senators were working on.
The Gang of Eight began working on drafting principles. They were forced to speed up their timetable when they learned Obama planned to announce his own proposals and they rolled out their blueprint at a packed news conference at the Capitol on Jan. 28. Since then they've had little to say publicly as they work toward releasing their bill, except to voice cautious optimism that this time they will finally succeed in solving a problem that has bedeviled Washington for decades.
"Everyone has strong beliefs, but everyone wants to come to an agreement," Schumer said.
Said Flake, "Everybody's looking to get it done and that makes all the difference."
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