Rubio Maintains Support for Immigration Bill Despite Rushed Process
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is showing no signs of following through on his January promise to conservative talker Rush Limbaugh that he would walk away from the “Gang of Eight” if the process was not open, despite the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is moving to speed through final passage of a completely repackaged loophole-and-handout-laden version of their immigration bill this week.
In a January 29 interview with Limbaugh, Rubio promised to walk away if immigration reform efforts became opaque.
"The next step in this process is to craft a starting point of legislation, and then after that it's gonna have to go through committees and people are gonna have their input,” Rubio told Limbaugh back then. “There's gonna be public hearings. I don't want to be part of a process that comes up with some bill in secret and brings it to the floor and gives people a take it or leave it."
Rubio made similar promises throughout the course of the Gang of Eight immigration bill debate. For instance, the Washington Post’s Evan Soltas detailed in an April 1 article the same “escape hatch” Rubio carved out for himself at that point in time.
“Excessive haste in the pursuit of a lasting solution is perhaps even more dangerous to the goals many of us share,” Rubio said in a press release at the time.
“We will need a healthy public debate that includes committee hearings and the opportunity for other senators to improve our legislation with their own amendments,” Rubio said in a follow-up release the next day in late March.
After quoting those two releases from Rubio, Soltas wrote: “So that’s it, then. If Rubio ever needs to bolt, you can already see the reason he’ll give. It was Sen. Harry Reid, in the cloakroom, with the calendar.”
Nonetheless, Rubio is not showing any signs he will back off the bill as Reid rushes it to the floor. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a staunch critic of the bill, is calling on Rubio to follow through on his previous promises to the American people.
“Senator Rubio said he wouldn’t support a process that was rushed and that was not transparent,” Sessions said in a Sunday evening release. “I hope that he, and all members who believe in open process, will vote against Majority Leader Reid’s motion to silence debate on a bill no one has read. And I would further issue a challenge to the sponsors of this bill: if your proposal is so good, then why not commit to extensive, open debate on it? Why do we have to pass this out of here before Members go home to face their constituents over July 4th? Whose interests do we serve?”
Regardless of what Rubio decides, there are likely to be harsh consequences. As the Post's Soltas noted back in April, if Rubio left the Gang of Eight at any point ever “it would be disastrous” for supporters of the bill. It would be even more so in the bill’s final hour in the Senate.
According to a GOP aide, any Republicans who do end up supporting this bill will likely face damaging consequences in their political futures.
"This Kabuki dance was scripted months ago, planned maybe years ago, by the special interest coalition that supports this for a variety of reasons, none of which are the national interest,” the GOP aide said. “Even though they won't know by Monday, the American people are going to find out what happened and I suspect they'll make the conspirators ultimately pay a price.”