February 13, 2018
Haven't the Democrats been asking for this debate?
Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
On the Minority Leader’s objections to debating immigration
February 13, 2018
About 20 minutes ago, our Majority Leader, Senator McConnell tried to move debate along on an immigration bill, and I’m puzzled that the Minority Leader, Senator Schumer, objected. And the reason I’m puzzled is because, for a long period of time, people on both sides of the aisle have been advocating for certainty for the young people brought here by their parents that we call Dreamers or DACA people.
And so the Majority Leader, two weeks ago, promised the Minority an opportunity to have a debate on that issue. The first debate on immigration since 2013, I believe. The Majority Leader today tried to carry out that promise to get this bill moving, and we have this objection. Very puzzling.
I think it’s legitimate to ask the Minority Leader why this objection is coming for the very debate that he and his side of the aisle have been demanding from the Majority for a long, long period of time. Hasn’t the Minority Leader and the entire Democratic Party been asking for this debate on immigration for months? Yes, they have been.
Leader McConnell has honored his commitment and allowed us to have an open, fair immigration debate this week. The key word here is an ‘immigration’ debate. Not a DACA-only debate. Not an amnesty-only debate. An immigration debate.
An immigration debate has to include a discussion about enforcement measures. An immigration debate has to include a discussion about how to remove dangerous criminal aliens from our country. A real immigration debate has to include discussions about how to protect the American people.
The Leader has asked for unanimous consent to allow us to start debating these issues, and the Democrats are refusing.
Puzzling, as I say it is, because they have been the ones to demand to have this debate. Why don’t they want to debate things like sanctuary cities?
Are they unprepared to discuss this vital public safety issue? Or, is it more likely that they are worried that an enforcement bill from this side of the aisle could actually pass? Maybe that’s the case, but it’s no reason to not allow this body to start the debate on that important issue.
The American people deserve a real immigration debate, about the four pillars that we agreed to at the White House, and not just a debate about the Democrat’s preferred policy preferences. Yes, DACA is a part of that discussion, but it’s only one part. If the Democrats are insisting we debate their preferred policies only, well that’s not a real debate at all.
We have filed an amendment that takes into consideration the four pillars that were agreed to at a bicameral, bipartisan meeting at the White House with the President presiding on January 9. Those four pillars include legalization and a path to citizenship, border security, elimination of chain migration and fourthly elimination of the Diversity Visa lottery. Those all fit in, maybe not exactly in detail the way the President might want it, but they fit into the four that he said he would sign on to.
So I suggest to my other 99 colleagues that there is a provision that can pass the United States Senate, can pass the House of Representatives and can be signed by the President because he has said he agrees with those principles. Other people have bills, but not something that can become law based upon what the President will sign or not sign.
So I think that it’s, again, very puzzling why the Democrat leadership will not allow this debate to go forward, something that they’ve been asking for. More importantly, maybe quite to their surprise, the Majority Leader has allowed the debate to move forward. That’s how a consensus was made two weeks ago on the issue of opening up government and having this debate and moving forward to a budget agreement. Those things have been done.
Now the Leader is carrying out his promise, I hope the other side will agree to move ahead.
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