Rubio warns against ‘rush to legislate’ on immigration reform

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is warning Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) not to rush an immigration-reform bill through his committee, calling for extensive hearings on the legislation’s many provisions.

In a letter to Leahy on Saturday, the Tea Party favorite and member of the Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration group cautioned against a “rush to legislate.”

ADVERTISEMENT
“I am aware that the Judiciary Committee, both under your leadership and under the leadership of your predecessors, has conducted a number of hearings related to immigration reform,” wrote Rubio in the letter. “But they cannot be a substitute for fresh hearings to consider specific legislation as part of a national conversation.”

Rubio’s letter comes after Leahy last week said in a letter to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that he intended to “proceed to comprehensive immigration reform with all deliberate speed.” 

Sessions had argued that Leahy was “ramming through” a large bill that would require extensive debate.

Leahy countered that past sessions of Congress had already held multiple hearings on the issue and that immigration reform was ready to move quickly to the Senate floor.

In a letter Saturday, Sessions praised Rubio “for supporting the request for extensive open process and public hearings.”

“What we need, and must have, is a full and thorough national discussion over every component of this bill.  The timeline presented by Chairman Leahy  -- as well as [Senate Majority] Leader Reid [D-Nev.] and President Obama – is unacceptable,” said Sessions, calling for “a detailed series of public hearings.”

A bipartisan Senate group is expected to unveil their immigration-reform bill sometime in April. But the legislation will include many provisions that will struggle to win the support of conservative lawmakers, including a pathway to citizenship.

Democrats hope to move the bill quickly to capitalize on growing momentum for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

Rubio, in his letter, warned that moving too quickly on immigration could cost public support for the bill.

“You have said that “delay for delay’s sake” would be a mistake in this matter, I agree. But excessive haste in the pursuit of a lasting solution is perhaps even more dangerous to the goals many of us share,” wrote Rubio. “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’s letter comes after business groups and labor announced they had reached a deal on a guest worker program, a key hurdle to finalizing the Senate immigration deal.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who helped facilitate the agreement between business and labor, downplayed Rubio’s concerns on Sunday.

“It’s semantics,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“As Sen. Rubio correctly says, we will not come to final agreement until we look at all of the legislative language, and he’s correctly pointing out that that language hasn’t been drafted,” he continued. “There will be little kerfuffles, but I don’t think any of us expect there to be problems.”

Jonathan Easley contributed

This story was updated at 11:18 a.m.