According to an ABC News report, senators from the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” pushing immigration reform are expected to drop their bill, estimated at around 1,500 pages, on Tuesday, mere hours before the only scheduled Senate hearing on the topic.
“A bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce its long-awaited immigration bill on Tuesday, Senate sources confirmed to ABC News,” Jim Avila and Jordan Fabian wrote on Friday. “Four Democrats and four Republicans, known as the ‘Gang of Eight,’ wrapped up months of hard-fought negotiations this week and will put forth a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.”
If the Senators actually do wait until Tuesday to roll out their lengthy proposed overhaul of the U.S. immigration system, that will give members of the Senate Judiciary Committee less than a full day to read it before the only Senate hearing on the topic. Despite ardent pleas from Senate conservatives, including ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee’s chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy, has only agreed to one hearing on the legislation.
Leahy scheduled that single hearing for Wednesday at 2:30 PM, and the hearing’s sole scheduled witness is Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Napolitano would have less than a full day to read the bill she is scheduled to testify about.
“Gang of Eight” member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has said he supports multiple hearings and an open and transparent immigration reform process, but his actions do not necessarily back his words. He has not pushed Leahy to force multiple hearings; he appears content with the single hearing Leahy has scheduled on the issue and now appears to be backing down from his demand for multiple hearings.
In a Friday morning report, Politico’s Manu Raju notes that after Rubio was “rebuffed” in his request for multiple hearings, “the senator wants to launch his own public hearing process of sorts to allow Republican senators to question expert witnesses about the plan, a move aimed at alleviating conservative fears that the plan will be jammed through Congress with little public airing.”
Rubio is clearly worried about the perception that this bill will be rushed through, just like Obamacare was a few years ago. On Saturday morning, Rubio’s office issued a press release containing a single quote from Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace:
The one thing that’s clear is that this isn’t going to be health care reform. It’s not going to be rushed through. It’s going to go through the committee process. There’s going to be hearings. There will be lots of amendments. And I think the only way to get buy in from some of those other 92 senators is going to be regular order, that is a very gradual slow way.
Despite Wallace’s claim, there is only one hearing that is scheduled to happen. At the same time, there are multiple reports that keep surfacing indicating that the Gang of Eight will band together to block amendments to their bill.