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Pat Leahy: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Hearings!

We noted here that Marco Rubio, one of the architects of the soon-to-be-unveiled “Gang of 8″ immigration bill, has joined with other Republicans in calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold extensive hearings on the legislation so that senators, not to mention voters, can have some idea what it says and what its effects will be. Rubio wrote a letter to that effect to Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy on Sunday. Today Leahy responded, in typically arrogant fashion:

While you have conducted the process of the “gang of eight” behind closed doors, I can assure you that it has always been my position as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the work of the Committee should be open to the public so I have every intention of ensuring that debate and consideration of any future comprehensive immigration reform legislation will be thorough and will be conducted in open session and streamed live on the Judiciary Committee website.

So far, so good. But how much testimony and debate will there be, to be streamed live?

I hope that the American people will soon be able to review the legislation you and your seven fellow gang members have reportedly been working on for months.

Somehow I don’t think Leahy would refer to “you and your fellow gang members” in a letter to Democratic gang members Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.

The Judiciary Committee is capable of swift and thorough action. 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. I will, however, remain mindful of the urgent need for us to actually get to the work of debating and considering amendments without unnecessary delay because this is an issue to which our attention is long overdue.

So Leahy will “consider scheduling a hearing.” A retreat from his first paragraph, to say the least. Like others in Washington, Leahy says that changing our immigration laws is “urgent” and can tolerate no “unnecessary delay.” But why? Our laws aren’t being followed anyway. I suppose, after all these years, we could go on ignoring them for another month or two without any great harm resulting. Here comes the punch line:

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.

And why might that be? Evidently because if Americans find out what the Obama administration has in store for them, millions of them will rise up, as happened in 2007, and object. The lesson that the political class took away from that experience was not that they should respect the desire of the American people to take our laws and our sovereignty seriously, but rather that next time, they should ram a new immigration law through Congress before the voters know what hit them. Have we got a great political class, or what?

Leahy concludes:

By this summer, I hope that all members of the Senate will be able to vote for or against comprehensive immigration reform and that each member will take into consideration the significant process that the Senate Judiciary Committee will have completed. The American people have grown tired of the endless filibusters that occur regularly in the Senate. I look forward to working with you to overcome such obstruction in the weeks to come.

For Leahy, like everyone else in Washington, whether the filibuster is a good thing or a bad thing depends entirely on who holds the Senate majority. According to this source, in 2003, when Republicans controlled the Senate and the Democrats were desperately trying to drive George Bush from office, Leahy voted against cloture–i.e., filibustered–100% of the time, on 22 out of 22 occasions. Leahy is a hypocrite of epic proportions.

What all of this means is that the Democrats intend to ram an immigration bill through the Senate before the rest of us know what it contains. But to what end? The House, Washington’s last bulwark of sanity, is not going to rubber-stamp the Senate’s bill. With luck, the relevant House committees might even schedule hearings.

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