Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is pushing back hard against criticism that the bipartisan Senate “Gang of Eight” is being too secretive in writing its immigration bill and is gaming to rush it into law.
“I’ve heard this criticism about it being negotiated in secret and so forth and so on,” Gang-of-Eight-member Rubio said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday evening.
“I’ve just been presented with an amendment to the gun bill. And I have one hour to decide whether I want to co-sponsor it. And it’s been negotiated over the last three days. I think I’m going to cosponsor it. But quite frankly I have 30 minutes to read it. And that’s not been negotiated in the public eye and that deals with a constitutional right. So the bottom line is that this [immigration] proposal is going to undergo more scrutiny than most of the things I vote on here every single day.”
Rubio said the Gang of Eight immigration bill, which is scheduled to be revealed Wednesday, is going to get a full and lengthy public hearing before it is put to a vote in the Senate.
“This issue is now going to be out there in the public eye for a whole month before the first vote is potentially taken in committee on amendments,” he said.
“And this issue probably won’t be on the floor of the U.S. Senate for multiple weeks — maybe a couple months. So I certainly don’t see any rush or urgency to get this past anybody. But I don’t think it is fair to say it’s been secretly negotiated and there is an urgency before everyone can be familiar with it. I think people will be a lot more familiar with this immigration bill than they are with most of the issues they vote on around here in the time I’ve been here.”
Rubio added that even if he and other members of the Senate Gang of Eight wanted to rush the bill into law, the House still must have its say.
“Even if they tried to rush it through the Senate, passing a bill out of the Senate does not become a law,” he observed. “We still have the House, which I think is deeply committed to a very deliberative process to get this done right.”
The potential 2016 Republican presidential contender argued that the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill will not be pushed through like President Obama’s health care law.
“I understand why people are so concerned given the history of this place, but if you compare it to the way Obamacare was passed or some of the other issues that have gone on around here — I mean, many [of] these … monumental things that I’ve been asked to vote for in the past are things that were negotiated in a room and I was voting on them 48 hours later,” he said. “I mean, compare that to this process, which is weeks away from even beginning. “
Besides Rubio, the Gang of Eight includes Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, as well as Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Michael Bennett of Colorado and Dick Durbin of Illinois.