The senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee criticized Chairman Patrick Leahy Wednesday for his decision to hold a single hearing on what could be a massive immigration bill.
“The process that Chairman Leahy has described — a single hearing on a potentially 1,500 page bill — is unacceptable,” Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said. “It is an explicit rejection of the process demanded by Judiciary Committee Republicans and endorsed by Senator [Marco] Rubio.”
Rubio is part of the so-called "Group of Eight" senators trying to hammer out a bipartisan bill aimed at securing the border, creating a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, and modernizing the visa programs for low- and high-skilled workers. The group is reportedly on the verge of announcing a final agreement.
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Sessions, continuing a feud with Leahy over the rush to complete an immigration bill, said the issue is far too complex to be dealt with in a single hearing.
“The American people are being shut out, the law enforcement community is being shut out, and the people’s representatives are being shut out,” Sessions said. “We need a committee hearing on every component of reform, including the extraordinary potential costs to taxpayers, the impact on wages and job prospects for the unemployed, and the administration’s continued refusal to enforce the laws previously enacted by Congress.”
Session's criticism followed Leahy's announcement that the Judiciary Committee would soon hold its fourth hearing this year on immigration. But the fourth would be the first on the comprehensive overhaul bill that Rubio and others have said could be ready to roll out this week.
“Our hearings have informed the Senate and the public of the various and pressing needs to reform the nation’s broken immigration system,” the Vermont Democrat said. “I look forward to continuing that discussion next week as we head toward marking up legislation with deliberation and openness.”
Session’s criticism of Leahy is the latest in a public feud between the two senators over how the panel will address immigration reform, with Leahy moving forward at a pace that Sessions says bypasses public scrutiny.
“Now that the special interests have what they want, the deal has been made: force it through and set the public interest aside,” Sessions said.“Failure to commit to this kind of open process is tantamount to an admission that the bill is not workable and will not stand up to public scrutiny.”
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