Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sen. Marco Rubio: Let's be 'realistic' and ditch comprehensive immigration reform

Conservatives have criticized Marco Rubio for his role in shaping the Senate deal.

Conservatives have criticized Marco Rubio for his role in shaping the Senate deal.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio, who helped write the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill, has shifted back to his original position that piecemeal legislation is the way forward.

"We've been lectured for the better part of a month now how we need to be realistic, that Barack Obama was not going to repeal Obamacare," Rubio said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "Likewise, I think supporters of immigration reform need to be realistic. The House is just not going to jump on board for whatever the Senate passes."

That's been evident for months. But in recent interviews the Florida Republican has sounded more distant from the Senate legislation. On CNN on Friday, a casual viewer could have assumed that he had nothing to do with it — as he referred to "whatever the Democrats in the Senate are demanding."

Rubio even opposes using the Senate bill as a negotiating point in a conference if the House can manage to pass a limited bill.

"Any effort to use a limited bill as a ruse to trigger a conference that would then produce a comprehensive bill would be counterproductive. Furthermore, any such effort would fail because any single senator can and will block conference unless such conference is specifically instructed to limit the conference to only the issue dealt with in the underlying bill," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told Breit­bart News.

Politically, there is truth to what Rubio says. The House is a sticking point. Even the White House has softened demands for one big bill, though the president still wants a comprehensive approach.

Rubio says he is just reflecting reality. Yet the signals he is sending also reflect the damage he has suffered from his involvement in the Senate deal, which provides a path to citizenship for millions of people, provided they pay fines and wait more than a decade.

Before he joined the Gang of 8, Rubio said he wanted a piecemeal approach.

"Usually, when Congress approaches issues of this magnitude with one big bill, it almost always requires you to swallow five really bad ideas in exchange for one good one," he told the Times in December 2012.

Yet his views changed as he joined the bipartisan group — eagerly enough that he scooped his colleagues on the news. Rubio came to see that you couldn't do one thing — more border enforcement, for example — without addressing the 11 million people here illegally.

Still, after the Senate bill passed in June, Rubio more or less dropped out of view. Prospects of getting something done are grim, despite growing outside pressure on the House, including a blitz this week when 600 conservatives will descend on Capitol Hill in a call for action. House Democrats have introduced a bill that resembles what the Senate passed, minus the so-called border surge, and California Rep. Jeff Denham just became the first Republican to embrace it.

Now comes Rubio.

"A comprehensive approach and a comprehensive bill are two separate things," he told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday. "A comprehensive approach means you ultimately solve all the problems involving immigrating. And I ultimately think we have to solve all the problems because they are interrelated. A comprehensive bill is one that tries to do it all at once.

"You could theoretically come up with a bill that does it all, and does it all well. But realistically, given the environment we're in now, especially, the only chance of success on immigration may be a series of bills that build on each other."

Sen. Marco Rubio: Let's be 'realistic' and ditch comprehensive immigration reform 10/28/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 28, 2013 11:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Amid escalating Russia crisis, Trump considers major staff changes


    President Donald Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a "war room" within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

    President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a retooling of his senior staff. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]
  2. Karen Lugo, 13, from Tampa, holds up her IPad Mini to take a picture of herself while relaxing in the sand alongside her mother, Karen Castro (on left), at the North Beach area of Fort DeSoto on Memorial Day (05/27/13). Karen comes to the beach with her family for holidays, she said. Also present was her older brother and three cousins.
  3. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose


    The Rays are looking to win a fourth consecutive road series today when they wrap up a three-day holiday weekend set with the Twins, first pitch at 2;10.

    RHP Alex Cobb will be on the mound for the Rays, and pitching on Memorial Day weekend is personal for him since his brother, R.J., served in the Army and …

  4. To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning


    ANNVILLE, Pa. — Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached — a cheerful "Happy Memorial Day!" from oblivious well-wishers.

    Sgt. Heather Lynn Johnsen, of Roseville, Calif., guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Friday, March 22, 1996, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. [Associated Press file]
  5. Photo gallery: Florida High School Track & Field State Championships, May 6, 2017


    View a gallery of images from Saturday's Florida High School Track & Field State Championships in Bradenton.

    Jefferson High sprinters Eyekeyle Gardner, 17, left, and Kourtney Lawton, 15, compete in the Girls 2A 4x400 Meter relay during the FHSAA Track & Field Finals held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Saturday, May 6, 2017.