Senators Miss Self-Set Deadline to File Immigration Bill

Senators Miss Self-Set Deadline to File Immigration Bill

The bipartisan Senate group pushing immigration reform, dubbed the “Gang of Eight,” has missed its own self-set deadline to drop the approximately 1,500-page bill that aims to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

As of midnight on Tuesday, a senate source confirmed to Breitbart News “still nothing;” the bill had not been filed. That source said the Senate cloakroom estimated the bill would be filed by around 1 AM.

When the Senate finished its official business on Tuesday shortly after 8 PM, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke from normal procedure and did not adjourn the Senate until the morning. Instead, he put the Senate in recess subject to the “Call of the Chair.” Essentially, since Senators cannot file bills when the Senate is adjourned, Reid used a technicality to allow the Gang of Eight to finish up their bill so they could still file it late Tuesday night. But the group missed the mark and is now stretching into Wednesday.

Late last week, several media outlets, including ABC News, reported that the senators–Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Michael Bennet and Bob Menendez–would file their bill on Tuesday.

The senators subsequently planned a press conference to happen on Tuesday, at which they would tout the filing of the long-awaited bill. The timing of the bill’s originally-planned filing was controversial because the then-only Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the topic was scheduled for the next day, Wednesday, at 2:30 PM. After outrage about how the Senators on the Committee and the hearing’s only scheduled witness, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, could not possibly read the entire bill ahead of the hearing, the Committee’s chairman Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) rescheduled the hearing for Friday.

After concerns about the apparent efforts to rush the bill did not wane, Leahy scheduled a second hearing for this coming Monday. In a Tuesday letter responding to Tea Partiers protesting his support for the “Gang of Eight,” Rubio claimed credit for pushing the hearings back: “Already, I have fought and continue to fight to secure commitments for greater transparency through committee hearings and mark-up sessions that will allow senators on the Judiciary Committee ample opportunities to review and amend any immigration legislation before it is considered by the full Senate for additional debate and scrutiny. As a result, not only has the Judiciary Committee agreed to delay its first hearing on this issue, it has agreed to add an additional one next week.”

The terror attack bombings in Boston caused the Gang of Eight to postpone the press conference that was scheduled for Tuesday–but, as Breitbart News has previously detailed, the group of senators made clear they would still drop the bill with their plan on Tuesday. 

Conservative critics of the immigration reform group are unlikely to let its failure to meet its own deadline pass. In a Tuesday evening statement, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) criticized the Gang of Eight for being late. “As of this afternoon, senators have received only a set of talking points promoting the new immigration proposal,” Lee said. “Once it has been released, I strongly encourage my colleagues to read the bill and then decide for themselves whether this reform will accomplish what proponents are promising. It is unfortunate that we have so little time to digest and evaluate such an expansive piece of legislation before we hold our initial committee hearing.  As senators, it is our duty to read the bill and fully understand the impact it will have on our immigration system before casting votes.”

Former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, the new president of the Heritage Foundation, said in an interview on Breitbart News Sunday with Stephen K. Bannon on Sirius/XM Patriot that “there is no way” the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee or Napolitano can read the entire supposedly 1,500-page bill before Napolitano testifies on it. “And the versions of it change all the time,” DeMint said. “I can guarantee you staff are writing that tonight and even the Gang of Eight are not exactly sure what is in that bill.”

“It needs to be available for a week or two before they have hearings,” DeMint added. “Then we need to have several hearings with a lot of experts before they try to jam something else through.”

In a statement provided exclusively to Breitbart News in which she heavily criticized Rubio for his involvement in the Gang of Eight, Tea Party Patriots co-founder and national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said the senate group’s tardiness “gives us only 1 extra day for the hearing this week.”

“The other crumb they are throwing to placate us is the Judiciary Committee’s so very gracious agreement to add one additional hearing next week, as though that is enough time for the Senators to deliberatively review the bill and all of its potential consequences,” Martin added.