Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has demanded public hearings on the pending immigration bill, complicating Democrats’ plans to rush the high-stakes measure through the Senate’s judiciary committee by the end of April.
“A rush to legislate, without fully considering all views and input from all senators, would be fatal to the effort of earning the public’s confidence” in the pending bill, Rubio said in a March 30 letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of Senate judiciary committee.
Last week, Leahy announced that he intended to rush the draft immigration bill through his committee to the Senate floor without holding any hearings.
Democrats are rushing the bill because immigration advocates, including Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, say similar immigration bills failed in 2006 and 2007 when public opposition was gradually rallied by reform groups, such as NumbersUSA.
The pending bill is expected to include a multi-staged amnesty for at least 11 million illegal immigrants, plus their relatives — all of whom will eventually be eligible to vote and receive federal education, health care and retirement funds.
The bill is also expected to increase the influx of immigrant workers by roughly 160,000 workers a year, despite a national unemployment line of 20 million Americans and the accelerating replacement of unskilled American workers by new machines. (RELATED: How do immigrants fare in Obama’s economy?)
The bill is President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority.
It is not clear whether Rubio’s call for hearings is a determined pushback against Leahy and other Democrats, or if it is simply posturing to win a few unimportant hearings that may reassure some GOP voters who oppose the amnesty and guest-worker law.
Still, Rubio’s letter was backed by Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who allied with five other GOP senators to demand hearings on the bill. (RELATED: Immigration issue prompts political posturing)
““I applaud Senator Rubio for his important letter to Chairman Leahy and for supporting the request for extensive open process and public hearings … a sound committee process will take months – not weeks,” said a March 30 statement from Sessions, who has vociferously opposed the bill’s guest-worker programs.
The bill is being drafted by Rubio and seven other senators, including New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat. It is almost complete, but Schumer has said he will not submit it until it has the approval of all eight senators, including Rubio.