Continuing the plan to fast-track the yet-to-be-released Gang of Eight legislation, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a “Hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation” next Wednesday, April 17 at 2:30 p.m. Thus far, the only scheduled witness is Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Claiming that this would be the fourth hearing to cover the issue of immigration this year, Leahy indicated that this could be the only hearing on the legislation. Senate Judiciary Committee members, Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), responded by calling for greater scrutiny on the unreleased bill that is expected to be up to 1,500 pages.
Senator Lee questioned whether the April 17 hearing gives the American people enough time to examine the legislation:
A single hearing scheduled so quickly to discuss legislative language that is not yet even available is completely inadequate for senators or the American people to get answers to the many questions a bill of this magnitude will inevitably raise. We could not possibly have a meaningful hearing with a substantive discussion of what will surely be over 1,000 pages of provisions we haven’t even yet seen.
Sessions echoed these concerns and called out the political motivations to rush an amnesty bill through the Senate:
As with 2007, the drive to enact amnesty supersedes all else – including the open government principles of our democratic Republic. The American people are being shut out, the law enforcement community is being shut out, and the people’s representatives are being shut out. 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.
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.
Despite the announcement from Chairman Leahy, next Wednesday’s hearing is still not definite. Senate Judiciary Committee rules require hearings to be announced one week in advance, but the Gang of Eight has yet to introduce legislation. With the Senate going into recess from April 29 – May 3, Leahy is under pressure to move the expected amnesty bill as quickly as possible and indicated he wants to ““markup” the legislation the week of May 6. The inside the beltway publication Congressional Quarterly reported yesterday:
According to Democratic aides familiar with the interview, Leahy then intends to schedule a markup the following week on the immigration reform legislation being drafted by a bipartisan group of eight senators.
The markup will likely be delayed a week, since under committee rules any member can ask for a one-week delay and Republicans often do.
The markup is likely to last “days, if not weeks,” according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the members of the immigration group.
If passed by the committee, Senate floor debate on the bill could begin before the Memorial Day recess but likely wouldn’t wrap up until after then, one Democratic aide said.
The Senate Judiciary Hearing will be streamed through FAIR’s website. Check the Upcoming Events calendar for details as they are released.