Lindsey Graham: The Senate's Republican dealmaker

Of the sponsors, only Mr. Graham faces an imminent election. He says Mr. McCain was worried the reform push would invite a primary challenge, but “I said, ‘Listen, name a time better than now.'” He cites polls that most voters are with him. “The bottom line is [that] from a political point of view, it’s been hurtful to me overall. But I think I’ve turned a corner, because the people I’ve lost, I’ve lost,” he says. A fifth of Republican primary voters oppose the legal pathway to citizenship.

“Schumer’s been incredible,” Mr. Graham says. “He’s a worthy successor to Ted Kennedy, and that’s saying a lot.” Marco Rubio, who joined the Gang of Eight in January, “has been a game-changer who’s been terrific on our side.” Dick Durbin, Mr. Graham says, is “tough but practical, always fighting for [organized] labor’s interest.”

The compliments are offered with Mr. Graham’s Southern twang and underscore a political point, too. You have to work with the other side to get things done in Congress. You may have to be willing to anger your partisan allies. Mr. Graham has succeeded on both counts.