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Top Dem says speed is chief goal on immigration bill

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The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he’ll consider holding a hearing on the immigration deal being written behind closed doors by eight senators, but he said it’s more important that Congress act with speed.

Several Republicans have written to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the committee chairman, asking for a long and open process to debate an immigration bill once the senators announce their deal. But Mr. Leahy, while saying he wants an open process, said his goal right now is speed.

“If we do not act quickly and decisively we will lose the opportunity we now have to fix our immigration system,” Mr. Leahy said in a letter to Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is one of the eight negotiators trying to strike a deal. Mr. Rubio and others are calling for the deal to be vetted with hearings and a long and open process.

Mr. Leahy said he wants to have a bill cleared through his committee and voted on by the full Senate “by this summer.”

He offered to sit down with Mr. Rubio to talk about how to move forward and to try to head off a potential GOP filibuster.

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