The Gang of Eight immigration bill does not yet have a 60-vote majority in the Senate, according to one of its authors, Sen. Bob Menendez…
A strong majority of 70 votes, [members of the Gang of Eight] believe, is not only possible but necessary to cajole the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to act. Despite his evaluation of the current level of support, Menendez believes that is possible.
“We want to push this bill forward with the most positive votes we can find … so we can put pressure on the House,” he said. “I want to have a good vote in the Senate so we send the message that the Republicans and the Democrats are together in favor of immigration reform.”
The Gang of Eight’s strategy for passing immigration reform through the Senate next month is to stick close together through a barrage of tough amendments.
The group plans to meet daily when their bill hits the floor in June and will encourage giving colleagues free rein to offer amendments, according to a person familiar with their discussions.
“Everyone is going to have to take tough votes,” said a member of the group who attended a strategy session Thursday just off the Senate floor…
“We agreed to work together as a team, just as we did on the Judiciary Committee. We want a full and fair debate on the floor, but we’ve also agreed that the core concepts of the bill cannot be undone,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the bill’s lead Democratic sponsor and a member of the gang.
Hirono deferred on several of her proposals but chose a different course on a proposal to let U.S. citizens suffering from extreme hardship petition for a sibling or adult married child to immigrate…
“I understand that my amendment is in conflict with the agreement that the Gang of Eight reached on this bill,” she said, adding, “If they were not part of the Gang of Eight, I believe they would support this limited amendment.”…
Schumer and Durbin quickly closed ranks, saying they would oppose Hirono’s proposal reluctantly.
In a gesture to Graham and Flake, Durbin said the two Republicans had “stood by the agreement when it wasn’t easy politically. I feel duty-bound to do the same thing at this moment.”
Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform admit that the bill benefited from the IRS scandal in the near term but fear the long term implications of the ongoing investigation into the nation’s tax-collecting agency.
“I think it hurts as it exacerbates distrust in government,” said one source supportive of comprehensive immigration reform. “This is problematic because people on the right need to have confidence government can implement [immigration reform].”
The truth is that the forces opposed to the immigration bill — led by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions — were always likely to wait until the legislation hit the Senate floor before making their strongest case against it.
Graham and Flake, along with fellow Gang Republicans Marco Rubio and John McCain, have undoubtedly felt some heat for opposing something that 82 percent of Republicans support. But they are sticking with Sen. Charles Schumer and other Democrats, who view any change to legalization-first as a deal killer. Take it out, and the gang’s carefully-crafted agreement is off.
The situation is far different in the House. Talk to the average GOP lawmaker, and he or she will say security simply must come first. On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that under the Gang of Eight proposal, a plan for enhanced security “does not have to be complete, or be even more than a fantasy.” That didn’t sound like a man ready to give an inch on security-first. And on Thursday, the entire House GOP leadership released a statement promising “there are numerous ways in which the House will approach [immigration reform] differently.” One of those ways, undoubtedly, will involve security.
A confrontation is coming between those Republicans who will not accept a deal that is legalization-first and those Democrats who will not accept a deal that isn’t. There are a lot of issues that will shape the future of immigration reform, but security first vs. legalization first is the most fundamental one.
One possibility is that the House will vote for watered-down reform, including more visas for highly skilled workers. But it likely will not include a way for the undocumented to stay legally and eventually get on a special pathway to U.S. citizenship.
Senate Democrats and even some Senate Republicans say there is no way a comprehensive immigration bill could win final congressional approval without a pathway to citizenship.
“It’s a non-starter,” said Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, a member of the Gang of Eight senators who wrote the bipartisan Senate bill…
“I think the House will pass immigration reform,” said Representative Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas. “I doubt it will include pathway to citizenship.”
Sen. Marco Rubio blocked numerous immigration-enforcement bills when he served as speaker in the Florida House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009.
“Rubio blocked any efforts to deal with the problems of illegal immigration on the local or state level,” one former politician from South Florida, who has known Rubio since his city councilman days in West Miami, told The Daily Caller.
“He said it was because we had bigger things to deal with on the state level. Maybe that’s true. But he didn’t even let bills to the floor when they sailed through committees,” the politician, who declined to speak on the record, added.
Rubio’s record is relevant now because he’s presented himself as a moderate backer for the Democratic-led “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.
Rubio knows, as we all do, that the bill’s enforcement provisions could have been significantly stricter in a number of respects. He even said on Hannity’s program that Congress should look at ways of better ensuring that enforcement occurs.
So why didn’t Rubio include such provisions in the bill that he drafted? He knows that the Democrats can’t attain their holy grail of amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegals without Rubio’s participation.
It is simply unconscionable that Rubio agreed to sponsor legislation the efficacy of which he cannot vouch for, on the theory that other, more responsible legislators will make sure the legislation won’t pass if it’s deficient. His stance is only marginally more responsible than Nancy Pelosi’s view that we should pass Obamacare so we can find out what’s in it.
As it stands, Rubio’s Hannity performance is puzzling and incoherent. Either he has declined to publicly defend the security provisions of a bill that he himself has formally endorsed, repeatedly backed in public, and continues to back, or he has implicitly withdrawn support for the bill. Does he support his own bill or not? If not, what changes does Rubio believe are required to the security provisions? Why leave this up to 92 other senators? If Rubio agrees that the security provisions need strengthening, he should tell us what he proposes. It’s fine for a senator to say that he’s open to negotiation with his colleagues on a bill that he nonetheless strongly supports in its current form. It’s something else to serve as the key public pitchman for a bill and then turn around and say it shouldn’t pass without unspecified changes to be proposed by someone else…
The bottom line is that we have no business even considering amnesty before our border security system, entitlement system, and assimilation system have all been reformed. Nothing Rubio said last night on Hannity successfully rebutted this claim, while much that he said tended to support it, against the thrust of his own bill. If this is the best case supporters of Schumer-Rubio can make to conservatives, then there is no serious conservative case for this bill.