No one knows what the comprehensive immigration-reform bill will look like except the “Gang of Eight,” the bipartisan group of senators working on it in secret.
As I noted last Friday, a number of GOP senators suspect immigration reform is going to be jammed through the Senate without adequate hearings, debate, or amendments.
Last Friday, some of them decided to express their concerns directly to the Gang of Eight. “Your group has secretly met for months and not consulted with members of the committee about major changes to our nation’s immigration laws,” top Judiciary Republican senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa wrote along with senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah. “We believe it is time for you to discuss the status of your negotiations, disclose what concessions have been made and provide details.”
Senator John McCain, a member of the Gang of Eight, didn’t alleviate any of their concerns yesterday when he appeared on CBSs Face the Nation.
“Some are saying, well, we’re not having enough hearings, we’re not having enough — first of all, we know the issue,” McCain said. “But second of all, the Judiciary Committee will act. There will be amendments. There will be debate. Then it will go to the floor of the Senate. There will be plenty of time for discussion and debate. So, I reject this notion that something is being railroaded through. This is the beginning of the process, not the end of it.”
But McCain’s assurances ring hollow. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy has only promised to “consider” scheduling a single hearing on the bill. His position, along with that of the White House, is that because immigration was debated before — a comprehensive bill crashed and burned on the Senate floor in 2007 — it’s not necessary to revisit the issue. It sounds like Senator McCain agrees with him, but just doesn’t want to say so. I suspect the American people will have a different view if senators continue to demand transparency on such an important issue.