Unless it is amended to include real border security provisions, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has promised to vote against the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill in its current form.
Rubio’s promise came during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday. Rubio said the Senate needs to “strengthen the border security parts of this bill so that they’re stronger, so that they don’t give overwhelming discretion to the Department of Homeland Security.”
While he was not specific about what they will contain, Rubio said he and other senators are working on amendments to improve the bill’s border security elements. Hewitt followed up by asking Rubio: “If those amendments don’t pass, will you yourself support the bill that emerged from Judiciary, Senator Rubio?”
Rubio’s answer was no. “Well, I think if those amendments don’t pass, then I think we’ve got a bill that isn’t going to become law, and I think we’re wasting our time,” Rubio said. “So the answer is no.”
At this time, Rubio’s metrics for what would be sufficient border security improvements are unclear. By way of reminder, when the original bill was first introduced, Rubio described it on numerous occasions as being the “toughest border security and immigration enforcement in U.S. history.” His publicly stated opinion changed as the American people learned how the bill’s border security provisions were largely toothless.
Nonetheless, if Rubio does end up voting against the bill, the Washington Examiner‘s Byron York notes it would be “an extraordinary turn of events.”
“After playing a major role in drafting the legislation, Rubio has been its public face since then, making countless appearances on television, radio, and in print to gather support for the legislation,” York wrote. “What has changed that would mean he would not vote for his own bill? If anything, the security measures in the bill were slightly strengthened in the Senate Judiciary Committee; the bill’s original intention to apply new security provisions only to ‘high-risk’ sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border was expanded to apply to all sectors.”
These latest comments from Rubio come on the heels of him saying on Monday that the Senate does not have the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation.