Marco Rubio, a key member of the Gang of 8 that is working on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, says that, although he’s “encouraged” by progress in talks on such legislation, “reports that the bipartisan group of eight senators have agreed on a legislative proposal are premature.” Rubio’s statement follows word that, with big business and big labor having agreed on a guest worker program, proposed legislation will soon follow.
In contrast to Rubio’s statement, Lindsey Graham, also of the Gang of 8, says “I think we’ve got a deal.” But Graham agrees with Rubio that the legislation hasn’t been written yet. Graham presumably means that there’s a deal in principle — a conceptual deal, if you will.
Rubio doesn’t deny this. He states:
We have made substantial progress, and I believe we will be able to agree on a legislative proposal that modernizes our legal immigration system, improves border security and enforcement and allows those here illegally to earn the chance to one day apply for permanent residency contingent upon certain triggers being met.
Rubio also insists that before a Gang of 8 proposal is voted upon, there must be committee hearings and a chance for the other 92 Senators to weigh in. This is consistent with the commitment Rubio made to Rush Limbaugh and his audience.
But Chuck Schumer, the leading Democrat in the Gang of 8, seems to take a different view. He says:
I am very, very optimistic that we will have an agreement among the eight of us next week. Sen. Leahy has agreed to have extensive markup and debate on the bill in April, and then we go to the floor, God willing, in May.
Schumer doesn’t mention hearings. Perhaps they are implied, but this sounds more like the normal rush-job that Rubio says he opposes. We’ll see.
In the meantime, perhaps Rubio can explain why, according to Jeff Sessions, the ICE officers’ union has been unable to speak with the Gang of 8, while certain special interests apparently have had plenty of access.