Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., brushed off Sen. Marco Rubio’s request that he abandon his plan to rush the gang of eight’s immigration proposal to the Senate floor, promising only to consider scheduling one hearing to review the legislation.
“The Judiciary Committee is capable of swift and thorough action,” Leahy wrote to Rubio today. “As soon as we have comprehensive immigration legislation to review, I will consider scheduling a hearing, in consultation with Senator Grassley, the Ranking Republican on Committee, and Senator Schumer, the Immigration Subcommittee Chair, to examine that proposal.”
Rubio has been working in private with seven other senators to develop a bipartisan immigration bill that could pass through the Democratic Senate and the Republican House. Despite his participation in the negotiations, he practically demanded that Leahy commit a committee process that would allow for a thorough review of the bill.
“A rush to legislate, without fully considering all views and input from all senators, would be fatal to the effort of earning the public’s confidence,” Rubio wrote last week, as The Washington Examiner’s Byron York reported.
Leahy’s position suggests he thinks that an extended committee process, with multiple hearings, might also be fatal to the bill. “I am hopeful you recognize, as I do, that if we do not act quickly and decisively we will lose the opportunity we now have to fix our immigration system,” he wrote to Rubio.
Rubio’s correspondence with Leahy was prompted by the Democratic senator’s letter informing Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that he believed immigration-related hearings conducted by past Congresses rendered hearings on the gang of eight’s proposal unnecessary.
“If any of the more junior Senators need time to get up to speed, I will look forward to them discussing their specific readiness problems with me directly and I will look forward to working with them as well,” Leahy wrote.
It remains to be seen how Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the rest of the Republican conference would respond to such a rushed process.
“The Leader would like see a full an thorough review through regular order,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told The Examiner.