Democratic Senator Leahy Wants to Pass an Immigration Reform Bill in Order to Find Out What is In It

Katie Pavlich

3/28/2013 7:28:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

Recently, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy urging the immigration reform "Gang of Eight" group, which includes both Democrats and Republicans, not to rush important reform legislation through without thorough debate. Sessions urged consideration of all angles of reform such as federal welfare benefits for illegals, how ICE agents view reform, how illegals can access ObamaCare and more.

In a written response, Leahy made it clear he has no plans to slow down the immigration reform process, arguing that because the Senate has been holding different types of immigration hearings for years, it isn't necessary to hold a hearing specific to new immigration reform legislation.

"I intend to proceed to comprehensive immigration reform with all deliberate speed. Under the Rules of our Committee, you will have your rights protected to hold over the legislation the first week it is listed on the Committee's agenda. After that, you will have the right to circulate and offer amendments. I hope and expect that you will not delay consideration simply to prevent he legislation from moving forward. Artificial delays, delays for delay's sake, has tainted too much of the Senate's work over the last few years," Leahy wrote in a response letter to Sessions. "After reviewing the record, I am reminded that our Committee held more than 40 hearings in these issues during the four Congresses that preceded this one and before the additional hearings we have already held this year. If Any of the more junior Senators need more time to get up to speed, I will look forward to them discussing their specific readiness problems with me directly and I will do my best to work with them, as well."

Leahy also accused Sessions of having a "beef" with John McCain for not being included in the Gang of Eight and wrote he is worried "too many congressional Republicans continue to oppose a straightforward pathway to citizenship."

According to Sessions, Leahy's response indicates a plan to rush legislation to the Senate floor without hearings or thorough debate.

“Last week, Ranking Member Grassley, Senator Hatch, Senator Cornyn, Senator Lee, Senator Cruz, and myself sent a letter to Chairman Leahy warning against a rush to pass an amnesty bill before the American people know what’s in it. In his reply to our letter, Chairman Leahy effectively informed Committee members that he has every intention of moving on a rushed timetable that would make it impossible for lawmakers or the public to properly assess a bill of this magnitude," Sessions said in a statement yesterday. "Specifically, it seems the Chairman is arguing we can put a bill on the floor two weeks after the Gang of Eight potentially produces legislation in early April. The Chairman’s suggestion that we don’t need hearings on this new proposal because we have held immigration hearings in the past misses the entire point: the massive proposal being cobbled together by a group of Senators in secret must be independently judged and reviewed by the Judiciary Committee in the full light of day. That will take months—not two weeks—and will require hearings on every aspect of this issue: protecting American workers and wages, protecting our public benefit programs and ensuring enforcement of the public charge law, evaluating the size, scope, and impact of any guest worker program, tracking visa overstays, etc. No member of Congress who believes in democratic procedure can acquiesce to the ramming through of a thousand-page bill that will dramatically and directly impact the taxes, wages, and security of our constituents."

In a addition, a Senate aide tells Townhall, "While paying lip service to transparency and good governance, Senator Leahy appears to have indicated that his true intention is to tow the Schumer-Obama line and rush a multi-hundred page bill through his committee for the full Senate to consider before people fully understand what’s in it."