- House overwhelmingly approves $16 billion cash infusion for VA overhaul
- Obama admin to blame for HealthCare.gov woes, $840M cost: GAO
- Al Gore’s climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Army’s 3-D printed bombs will create ‘a whole new universe’ of deadly capabilities
- Hamas calls on Hezbollah to join in fight against Israel
- Senators to FIFA, others: Don’t reward Putin with the World Cup in 2018
- U.S. condemns shelling of U.N. school in Gaza
- Obamacare shoots premiums up by 88 percent in California
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Obama to Republicans: ‘Stop just hatin’ all the time’
Schumer says immigration deal imminent; Rubio says not so fast
Question of the Day
Two senators from the so-called Gang of Eight working on bipartisan immigration reform said Sunday that the rollout of a bill that can pass the chamber is imminent, but two leading Republicans called such talk “premature” and said legislation on such an important topic must not be rushed.
A recently struck agreement on guest worker rules between two of the country’s most influential business and labor groups marks one of the final hurdles that’s been cleared on an issue President Obama has pushed to the top of his second-term agenda.
“Business and labor have an agreement on the future flow, which has been the issue that has undone immigration reform in the past. So this is a major, major obstacle that’s overcome,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ve all agreed that we’re not going to come to a final agreement until we see draft legislative language.”
Mr. Schumer said he was “very, very optimistic” that the eight senators would come to an agreement next week so legislation could theoretically hit the Senate floor in May.
Sen. Lindsey Graham agreed.
“I think we’ve got a deal. We’ve got to write the legislation, but 2013, I hope, will be the year that we pass bipartisan immigration reform,” the South Carolina Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I believe it will pass the House because it secures our borders, it controls who gets a job. As to the 11 million, they’ll have a pathway to citizenship, but it will be earned, it will be long and it will be hard, and I think it is fair.”
Indeed, one of the biggest tangible hurdles has been bridging the divide between business and labor leaders over the details of how best to revamp the nation’s guest-worker program — a fight that also helped derail comprehensive immigration reform in 2007.
But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO reached an agreement on an array of items, including wages — workers would receive prevailing industry wages or those paid to Americans — as well as the number of workers and types of jobs they would be allowed to hold. Starting April 1, 2015, a new “W” visa program would allow 20,000 workers into the country in the first year with the number increasing gradually and ultimately capped at 200,000 per year. It would also cap the number of construction industry visas at 15,000 per year
Sen. Marco Rubio said that while he was encouraged by the apparent business-labor accord, any reports that the eight senators have reached a deal are “premature” and that any legislative language the group comes up with “will only be a starting point.”
“We will need a healthy public debate that includes committee hearings and the opportunity for other senators to improve our legislation with their own amendments,” the Florida Republican said. “But arriving at a final product will require it to be properly submitted for the American people’s consideration, through the other 92 senators from 43 states that weren’t part of this initial drafting process. In order to succeed, this process cannot be rushed or done in secret.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, said he agrees with Mr. Rubio’s sentiment and called the proposed legislative timeline “unacceptable.”
“Never again can Congress pass a far-reaching proposal only for the American people to find out what’s in it later,” Mr. Sessions said, alluding to Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul. “The committee must have a detailed series of public hearings on the Gang of Eight immigration bill after it is produced followed by an extended markup process. A sound committee process will take months — not weeks.”
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, recently sent a sharply-worded letter to Mr. Sessions after he and other Republicans wrote a letter to Mr. Leahy requesting more hearings on the issue.
“Despite the fact that I have not scheduled a markup, you have decided to criticize me for something I have not done,” Mr. Leahy wrote. “I hope it is not your intention to discredit the process we undertake in the Judiciary Committee before we begin.”
Mr. Obama recently said he’s confident a bill can be passed before the end of summer if, as Mr. Schumer indicated, senators introduce a bill in early April.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Trips, loans for McDonnell family detailed at trial
- Star witness in Bob McDonnell corruption trial refutes 'crush' defense
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell's wife had 'crush' on CEO
- Wilder, Cuccinelli may be called as witnesses in McDonnell trial
- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's trial to test definitions of political corruption
Latest Blog Entries
- Dick Cheney: Hillary Clinton 'clearly bears responsibility' on Benghazi
- Holder vows to press ahead on gun control fight
- Seven of 10 prefer that Obama work with Congress, not go around it: Poll
- Schumer: Tea party hasn't let Obama put his policies into effect
- GOP official: Black not running for Wolf's House seat
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
- Geraldo Rivera: Matt Drudge 'doing his best to stir up a civil war'
- Al Gore's climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- House votes to sue President Obama over claims of presidential power
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- House unveils bill to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children
- HURT: Impeaching Obama is a losing strategy for the GOP
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- 'Big Bang' star Mayim Bialik helps send bulletproof vests to IDF
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world