There is no “urgency” to pass an immigration-reform bill out of the Senate, Marco Rubio said Tuesday. The so-called Gang of Eight, which has been working for months to craft a comprehensive-immigration-reform package, plans to release a bill later tonight.
“I certainly don’t see any rush or urgency to get this past anybody,” he told reporters on a conference call. “This is not a law that’s being designed behind closed doors, and being rushed to the floor, and everyone’s being asked to vote on it next week.”
Rubio predicted it would be “multiple weeks, maybe a couple of months” before a final bill was brought to the floor for a vote. “The bottom line is, all we’ve negotiated, in my mind, is a starting point,” he said. “This issue is now going to be out there in the public eye for a whole month before the first vote is potentially taken in committee on amendments.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to examine the legislation in a hearing on Friday featuring Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano. A committee mark-up hearing will likely be held sometime in May, and involve a “lengthy process,” including multiple votes on amendments. That is when the process for considering the legislation actually “begins,” Rubio said.
He also stressed the need for the Gang’s legislation to go through “regular order” in Congress. Even if Democrats and the Obama administration tried to rush the bill through the Senate, Rubio noted, “passing a bill out of the Senate does not [make it] a law.” The House could then produce its own legislation, and the differences could be ironed out in a conference committee.
Over the next several weeks, Rubio said he plans to focus on explaining the bill’s components to his colleagues and the American people. “This proposal is going to undergo more scrutiny than most of the things I vote on here every single day,” he said.