Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Pat Leahy finally scheduled a single hearing on immigration reform for next Wednesday, April 17, at 2:30 p.m. The hearing’s only witness at this point is to be Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), one of the Judiciary Committee conservatives who has been pushing for multiple hearings and an open and transparent immigration reform process, said in a Wednesday afternoon statement that one hearing is hardly enough, for a number of reasons.
First off, Lee notes the legislative text from the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” pushing immigration reform has still not even been introduced. And, even after the text is introduced, Lee wants a much more transparent process than Leahy is allowing, in order to thoroughly examine the legislation.
“A single hearing scheduled so quickly to discuss legislative language that is not yet even available is completely inadequate for Senators or the American people to get answers to the many questions a bill of this magnitude will inevitably raise,” Lee said. “We could not possibly have a meaningful hearing with a substantive discussion of what will surely be over 1,000 pages of provisions we haven’t even yet seen.”
Senator Lee points out that it has been five years since the Committee last considered comprehensive immigration reform. Many issues have evolved in the interim, such as changing demographics in Mexico, other sources of illegal immigration, the effect of a new guest worker program on the economy, the metrics DHS will use to measure border security, and the long-terms costs of mass naturalization
Lee recently joined Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sens. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to ask the “Gang of Eight” Republican Sens. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to demand an open and transparent process. All the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee except Flake and Graham made the same demand of Leahy a couple weeks ago. At first, Leahy scoffed at them and wrote a scathing response to Sessions. Then, after Rubio wrote to Leahy asking for the same thing, Leahy caved and agreed to “consider” a single hearing–the hearing he has now scheduled for next week.
Rubio still says he wants multiple hearings, but as Breitbart News has documented, his words are unlikely to assuage the concerns of his conservative colleagues.
Graham said he thinks just one hearing is enough. “We held one hearing in 2006, makes sense to me we hold at least one hearing,” Graham said on Tuesday. “It’s going to go through the committee process. If you want to make it better, you’ll have a chance, if you want to kill it, you’ll have a chance.”
McCain came out on Tuesday, too, saying he wants to rush the legislation the “Gang of Eight” develops through the Senate as fast as the lawmakers can. “Now is the time to get it done as quickly as possible,” McCain said, according to Politico.
Rubio’s spokesman, Alex Conant, has not responded when asked by Breitbart News whether his boss agrees with McCain’s push to rush the bill.