The much-awaited Senate immigration reform bill is expected to be introduced next week, and a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee says Democrats are preparing to get it passed as quickly as possible.
According to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy scheduled only one hearing on the plan before Democrats on the panel presumably send the package to the Senate floor for consideration. He told WND the fast-track approach is eerily reminiscent of the Democrats' approach to health-care legislation early in the Obama administration.
"A few years ago, there was an infamous moment when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi told congressmen with regard to the Obamacare bill, 'You've got to pass this bill so you can find out what's in it.' We've learned that bad things happen when we pass huge pieces of legislation," Lee said. "This immigration proposal, which no one has seen, has been estimated by some to be perhaps a 1,500-page bill. We haven't seen it, and yet a hearing is being planned to occur within a week or so after it's introduced. I think that's a bit of a problem. I think we need a lot of hearings. I think we need a lot of time to review it."
Lee said reading and understanding a bill this long is a painstaking process and should never be rushed.
"Fifteen-hundred pages of legislation is a lot. This does not read like a fast-paced novel. This does not read even like a slow-paced, long novel like 'The Grapes of Wrath.' This has all kinds of spillover ramifications that need to be evaluated carefully," he said.
Reports from earlier in the week suggested that the "Gang of Eight" will seek to block any amendments that would fundamentally alter the main tenets of the forthcoming bill. Lee is cautiously heartened by promises that will not be the case.
"I've been told that Chairman Leahy is promising an open amendment process, at least within committee. I hope and expect and will demand that when it hits the floor there will also be an open amendment process as well," Lee said.
Lee didn't speculate as to why Senate Democrats want to move the bill so quickly and with limited scrutiny, but he does believe that a mammoth immigration reform bill is a mistake in principle. He contends individual bills addressing individual aspects of our policies would be much more effective.
"We've got all kinds of things that need to be done with immigration reform. Those things could be done more effectively, more efficiently, more quickly and they'd be virtually certain to pass if we did this on a step-by-step basis," he said. "There are certain things we need to do. We need to secure the border. We need to modernize and update our legal immigration system, and we need a visa entry and exit system that will allow us to track those who are here on visas, when and where they enter and when and where they leave."
Lee added, "When those things are in place, it'll be a lot easier for us to figure out ways to deal with the 11 million people currently illegal in the United States. But if we try to do it all in one fell swoop and front-end load what to do with the 11 million, it's going to stall the process politically. It's also going to create huge logistical hurdles, which I think we should avoid through a step-by-step process."