GOP senator blasts ‘rush’ on immigration, demands hearings

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) blasted Democrats on Tuesday for scheduling only two hearings on the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill.

Sessions accused Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) of trying to rush the legislation to the Senate floor with “minimum public scrutiny.”

“Chairman Leahy’s decision to now hold two hearings in two day — one on Friday, one on Monday — is only further proof of the majority’s desire to rush this bill,” Sessions said in an email to The Hill.

“We are talking about legislation that will impact virtually every aspect of our society, reshape our entire immigration system, introduce at least 30 million new foreign workers into the economy, and directly impact every single American worker and taxpayer.”

Sessions spokesman Stephen Miller said the Alabama Republican and other senators, including Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Tex), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), sent multiple letters to Leahy detailing the hearing schedule that they hoped to see, but were ignored.


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“Republican senators asked for objective, serious public hearings exploring these complex issues — from the guest worker program, to border fencing, to law enforcement, to the administration’s abuse of prosecutorial discretion,” Sessions said.

“Chairman Leahy, with his announcement, has reaffirmed his repudiation of that request for hearings. Something is truly broken in Washington when the people, the law enforcement officers who protect them, and the people’s representatives, have less time to review the bill than the special interests who helped write it.”
 
A Leahy spokesperson referred The Hill to a letter the chairman sent to Sessions in late March. In the letter, Leahy said he has gone out of his way to “protect the rights of the minority on the Committee.”
 
Leahy said Sessions openly criticized him before any decisions on how to move forward had been made, and implied Sessions was looking to “discredit the process we undertake … before we begin."

Leahy also implied Sessions was only making noise on the matter because he was not included in the Gang of Eight.
 
“That is not a beef you have with me,” Leahy wrote.

On Tuesday, the Gang of Eight released the details of a broad agreement that would give provisional legal status to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants and put them on a pathway to citizenship if a series of border security metrics are met first.
 
Leahy delayed a Judiciary hearing on the bill that was scheduled for Wednesday, moving it to Friday. A spokesman for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is a member of the Gang of Eight, said the delay was intended to give senators more time to read the legislation.
 
Leahy has also added a second hearing on the immigration bill to the committee’s schedule that will be held on Monday.
 
“I am working with Senator Grassley, the Committee’s ranking member, to determine what witnesses he and other Republican Senators would like the Committee to invite to these two hearings,” Leahy said in a statement. “I look forward to reviewing the bill, holding prompt hearings on the legislation, and proceeding to debating and marking up legislation on this important issue.”

But Sessions says the two scheduled hearings aren’t nearly enough.
 
“The Gang has met privately for months, in close consultation with the special interests, to draft this legislation,” he wrote. “Is the public not entitled to have at least as long to review it before their representatives are asked to vote on it?”