US immigration deal expected soon

Washington, April 10 (IANS) A bipartisan group of senators plans to announce a deal within a week on the fate of over 11 million illegal immigrants, including some 260,000 Indians, living in the shadows, according to a media report.

But a committee markup on the legislation being prepared by the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” – four Democrats and four Republicans — is not expected until at least the week of May 6, providing a long period for debate and changes, Politico reported Tuesday citing Senate aides.

The influential Washington news site focusing on the capital said the schedule outlined by the aides is meant to satisfy Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a favourite of arch conservative tea party movement, who has said repeatedly that he wants a full debate and amendment process, to maximize the chances that the final vote is an overwhelming majority.

“We are optimistic that we will be able to introduce legislation soon,” the Politico cited a Senate aide as saying.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick “Leahy has agreed to hold a hearing as soon as possible after the legislation is introduced, and has promised to have unlimited debate and amendments during the committee markup.”

“Assuming Republican members push for as much time as possible, the committee debate will last through the next recess, giving plenty of time for public debate and review,” the aide added.

The Senate will return May 6 after a break for the last week of April.

Leahy and the Gang of Eight decided to hold a hearing next Wednesday on the bill, according to two Senate aides cited by Politico. The timing of the hearing is meant to serve as a backstop, forcing the senators to release the bill language by then, it said.

In a statement late Tuesday, Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said he wants the Senate process to play out. Rubio also wants other hearings in other committees, Conant added.

“Senator Rubio will be requesting that his Senate colleagues arrange multiple public hearings on the immigration bill,” he said. “We believe that the more public scrutiny this legislation receives, the better it will become.”

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