Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is threatening to vote against his own immigration reform bill, saying that if the legislation doesn't have tougher border enforcement, "I think we're wasting our time." Utah Sen. Mike Lee says he "cannot support" the bill, because it's "nonsensical" in trying to fix all the country's immigration problems at once. Bipartisan immigration talks in the House have failed, ABC News' Jim Avila reports. Is immigration reform dead?
It depends on who you ask. The National Review's Jonathan Strong points out that lots of Rubio's allies in the "gang of eight" do not agree. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday that "The bill's gonna pass. The question is how many Republicans can we get. From my point of view, the goal's half the conference. I think that's very achievable." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said passing the bill would be "pretty easy." New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez tells The Washington Examiner's David Drucker, "I think we'll get beyond 60 votes. How much beyond is an open question."
Part of the problem is that lawmakers want to force on immigrants the rules they can't force on the rest of us. In the House, ABC News reports on a major disagreement: that Republicans want to make sure immigrants on the path to citizenship can't get government-subsidized health care during the 15 years it would take to become a citizen. (Democrats say that since the immigrants would be paying taxes, they should have access to those benefits.) In the Senate, Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal wants to make it harder for immigrants to get guns.
But the biggest question is whether the bill can ever be tough enough on border security to satisfy enough Republicans. Rubio might be trying to make it easier for conservatives like Sen. John Cornyn to vote for the bill, The National Review says. Rubio and Cornyn are working on an amendment that would require 100 percent border surveillance, and 90 percent of people illegally crossing the border with Mexico to be arrested — before anyone gets a green card. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein points out that the Senate bill will be further to the left of whatever the House can produce, and the risk is that the final compromise will be too far right for Democrats to stomach.