In his chronically disingenuous media appearances on behalf of amnesty, Marco Rubio always insists that he wants to improve the Schumer-Rubio bill. Rubio has to say this to retain credibility among conservatives who doubt the government’s ability and willingness to enforce all but the most airtight border security measures — a doubt that Rubio purports to share. Thus, Rubio pledges that he is open to, and even desirous of, sensible amendments to his legislation.
What Rubio doesn’t say is that his vote on all amendments is directed by Chuck Schumer and the other Democratic members of the Gang of Eight. Yet, that is the case, as this report from the Washington Post makes clear.
Actually, it was Chuck Schumer who made it clear. When Jeff Sessions proposed an amendment to bar illegal immigrants from receiving welfare until they obtain a green card, Schumer leaned over to an aid and whispered, “Do our Republicans have a pass on this one?”
The import of this comment, which was picked up an open microphone, was obvious — Rubio could only vote for amendments that Schumer and his fellow Democrats oppose if Schumer gave him “a pass.” In that case, the Gang of Eight would split its vote and the amendment would be defeated by the Judiciary Committee, which the Dems control. This is what happened to Sessions’ amendment on welfare benefits for illegal immigrants.
Schumer, however, did not grant “his Republicans” many passes. Instead, the Gang almost always voted together. And, of course, the only amendments that passed were ones backed by Schumer and his fellow Democrats.
Thus, when Rubio tells conservatives that he welcomes amendments and that he has insisted on a process under which such amendments will receive fair consideration, what he means is this: he welcomes amendments that Chuck Schumer permits him to welcome, and the process is such that no other amendments will be adopted.
The result is a bill with border security provisions whose effectiveness Rubio cannot, and does not, defend. And the position that Rubio offers in lieu of a defense — let’s improve the bill through amendments — is fraudulent. Unless you trust Chuck Schumer to call the tune on border security.
UPDATE/CORRECTION: Sen. Rubio’s office reminds me that Rubio is not a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Thus, he did not vote on any amendments to his bill. I thank the Senator’s staff for prompting this correction to my post.
Nonetheless, Rubio is sponsoring this legislation, and says he would like to see it improved through the amendment process. Thus, it seems incumbent on Rubio to speak out in support of amendments he favors. To my knowledge, he hasn’t spoken out in support of any amendments not backed by Chuck Schumer and the other Democrats in the Gang of Eight. If I’m wrong about this, I hope the Senator’s office will correct me.
Moreover, the Washington Post, in the story linked to above, reports that “the eight [members of the Gang of Eight] met in private before each committee hearing hashing out which amendments they would support and which oppose as a united coalition.” If this is true, then Rubio clearly was in the loop on the amendment process, even though he couldn’t vote.
But even if Rubio wasn’t at the meetings where amendments were hashed out, it still appears that he will not break ranks with Schumer on amendments unless Schumer gives him a “pass.” He thus allows Schumer to call the shots on border security and all other issues.