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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Patrick Leahy responds to Rubio: I've already called for public debate on immigration



UPDATE 5:37 p.m. Rubio spokesman response. See below.

Two days after getting a letter from Sen. Marco Rubio urging an open, deliberate process on immigration, Sen. Patrick Leahy replied today by telling Rubio that's exactly what he's already called for.

"I received your letter delivered Easter Sunday evening.  Yours is the second open letter in March that I have received from a Republican Senator, each suggesting, in one way or another, that we slow the process for consideration of comprehensive immigration reform. 

"While you have conducted the process of the ‘gang of eight’ behind closed doors, I can assure you that it has always been my position as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the work of the Committee should be open to the public so I have every intention of ensuring that debate and consideration of any future comprehensive immigration reform legislation will be thorough and will be conducted in open session and streamed live on the Judiciary Committee website," Leahy wrote. "I called for this public debate and committee consideration when I spoke at Georgetown University Law Center in January.  I hope that the American people will soon be able to review the legislation you and your seven fellow gang members have reportedly been working on for months."

Read the letter here.

Rubio spokesman Alex Conant:

"It's a good sign that Chairman Leahy is dropping his opposition to public hearing, and we will push for several hearings on this complicated issue. This legislation will benefit from public hearings, a full debate and normal amendment process. Senator Rubio has always said he'd rather get immigration policy right than try to rush something through the Senate."

More broadly, Conant said: "We’re optimistic that the group’s proposal will receive broad, bipartisan support. ... Senator Rubio has been clear for months about what he can and what he can’t support, and nothing’s changed. If ultimately reform passes with his support, it’ll be because the reform is consistent with this conservative principles, and we believe many conservatives will join him. If ultimately he opposes the reform because something is added that goes against his principles, then people will respect that he stood on principle."

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 6:12pm]


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