Once Upon a Time, the Senate Was the ‘World’s Greatest Deliberative Body’
April 14, 2013 - 8:34 am
The immigration reform bill that will be unveiled this week is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that the Senate has addressed since Obamacare and has the potential to change millions of lives.
One would think with stakes that high, that Senators would live up to their history as “The World’s Most Deliberative Body” and read the bill carefully, weight its various provisions, watch the hearing on the bill closely, and then seriously weigh their vote.
According to an ABC News report, senators from the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” pushing immigration reform are expected to drop their bill, estimated at around 1,500 pages, on Tuesday, mere hours before the only scheduled Senate hearing on the topic.
“A bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce its long-awaited immigration bill on Tuesday, Senate sources confirmed to ABC News,” Jim Avila and Jordan Fabian wrote on Friday. “Four Democrats and four Republicans, known as the ‘Gang of Eight,’ wrapped up months of hard-fought negotiations this week and will put forth a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.”
If the Senators actually do wait until Tuesday to roll out their lengthy proposed overhaul of the U.S. immigration system, that will give members of the Senate Judiciary Committee less than a full day to read it before the only Senate hearing on the topic. Despite ardent pleas from Senate conservatives, including ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee’s chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy, has only agreed to one hearing on the legislation.
Leahy scheduled that single hearing for Wednesday at 2:30 PM, and the hearing’s sole scheduled witness is Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Napolitano would have less than a full day to read the bill she is scheduled to testify about.
“Gang of Eight” member Marco Rubio (R-FL) has said he supports multiple hearings and an open and transparent immigration reform process, but his actions do not necessarily back his words. He has not pushed Leahy to force multiple hearings; he appears content with the single hearing Leahy has scheduled on the issue and now appears to be backing down from his demand for multiple hearings.
In a Friday morning report, Politico’s Manu Raju notes that after Rubio was “rebuffed” in his request for multiple hearings, “the senator wants to launch his own public hearing process of sorts to allow Republican senators to question expert witnesses about the plan, a move aimed at alleviating conservative fears that the plan will be jammed through Congress with little public airing.”
How much would you like to bet that no Democratic senators attend those Republican hearings?
They’re not interested in what’s in the bill — and apparently many Republicans aren’t either. Giving Senators less than a day to read a 1500 page mess that is written in legalese rather than good old fashioned plain English is an invitation to a slew of unintended consequences being passed by Senators not familiar with what’s in the bill.
Where have we heard that one before?
This is no way to run a government. And it certainly isn’t conducive to prudent governance.