WASHINGTON — As the Senate prepares to debate a sweeping immigration bill that would allow the nation's 11 million unauthorized immigrants to become U.S. citizens, some Republicans, including one who helped write the law, are sounding skeptical about its chances of clearing the chamber.
Four senators penned a letter to their colleagues Tuesday saying the bill has "serious flaws" and laid out nine areas where they say significant change is needed before the bill can pass the full Senate.
"We need immigration reform, but the American people deserve better than a 1,000-page bill that makes our immigration system more complex and less accountable without truly ensuring border security," the letter read. "Americans expect their government to end the lawlessness, not surrender to it."
The letter was written by four senators who already voted against the bill when it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 13-5 vote last month: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. But even one of the co-authors of the bill, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been wondering whether the bill is ready to pass the Senate.
On Monday, he posted a video responding to a constituent's question where he questioned the border security components of the bill, a big concern for many Republicans fearful of a repeat of the 1986 immigration law, that allowed up to 3 million unauthorized immigrants to become U.S. citizens but did not fulfill its promises of border security.
"Let me tell you, there will have to be improvements," Rubio said in the video.
And on Tuesday, he said on Fox and Friends that the bill does not yet have the 60 votes necessary to break a possible filibuster on the Senate floor.
"And I think even the Democrats would concede that," said Rubio, who has been the chief salesman of the bill through appearances on conservative media outlets.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., questioned Rubio's math.
"Well, I don't know, maybe he's done a whip count. But that's up to the Republicans," Reid said. "Ninety percent or more of Democrats are going to vote to move forward on immigration. We want this bill passed."
Reid pledged to do "everything I can to move forward on this" and said Republicans will face severe repercussions if they block the bill. "The Republican brand is bad enough without their killing immigration, which, if they did, it would only make it worse," Reid said.
The Senate is scheduled to begin debating the immigration bill on Monday.
Contributing: Susan Davis
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