Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are looking to put the brakes on immigration reform amid signs that some of their colleagues are starting to get behind a comprehensive plan.
In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the group of Senators called for extensive committee hearings, suggesting that the process to craft immigration reform legislation should take months not weeks.
The letter was signed by Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, as well as Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, John Cornyn, R-Tex., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Tex.
The Senators said the letter was sent in response to indications that Leahy wants the committee to take up comprehensive immigration reform legislation reportedly being drafted by the "Gang of Eight" Senators when the Senate returns from recess in April.
The "Gang of Eight" refers to a group of four Republicans and four Democrats that have been working on an immigration reform proposal designed to attract bipartisan.
Earlier this year, the group outlined a proposal that includes providing a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. but ties the reforms to further increases in border security.
Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado joined with Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona to hammer out the agreement.
However, the Republican Judiciary Senators argued that the public needs be given adequate time to read and analyze the contents of any such bill before it is listed on the Committee's Executive Business Meeting agenda.
"The last time Congress considered legislation of this magnitude that was written behind closed doors and passed with no process, it resulted in sweeping changes to our healthcare system, the negative consequences of which are only now coming to light," the Senators wrote.
They added, "If we bring these important issues to the Senate floor without them having been worked through committee, it is a prescription for a real problem."
In the letter, the Senators noted that there were 100 hours of committee hearings and years of debate before the last major immigration reform bill was passed in 1986.
President Barack Obama has warned lawmakers that he will introduce his own immigration reform legislation if Congress fails to act on the issue, but the letter from the Republican Senators suggests that any bill faces an uphill battle.
by RTT Staff Writer
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