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Stark Contrast Between Opening Statements Of Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley

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The mark up of the Senate immigration reform bill is underway.

At the start of their meeting today, the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and the Ranking Republican, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), gave opening statements that set the tone for what’s to come.

Leahy, who is a champion for immigration reform, made a statement about his plan to pass real legislation in a fair and open process. On the other hand, Grassley made it clear that his goal is to delay and obstruct the process.

From Senator Leahy’s opening statement:

Now, in my view, it is time for the Committee to get to work marking up the bill.  Earlier this week Senators filed hundreds of amendments.  They are posted on our Committee website to make it easier for the public to follow and understand our discussion.   I hope that Senators will seriously consider which of their filed amendment they intend to offer so that we can make progress and report the bill in the next couple of weeks.

As I said when we began our discussion of the bill two weeks ago, I anticipate continuing our meeting next Tuesday and Thursday.  Depending on the progress we have made going through amendments by next Thursday, we may need to continue meeting on Friday.

This morning we begin with a series of brief remarks by Senators.  Then we will consider the sponsors’ perfecting amendment and then we will start with amendments filed to the beginning sections of the bill, which include the much discussed triggers for the pathway to citizenship.  Then we will move on to amendments filed to the first title of the bill on border security.  I hope we can complete work on those aspects of the legislation in today’s session.

I look forward to the cooperation of all Senators and to a productive and transparent process as we proceed to debate and vote on amendments to this historic legislation.

Productive is the polar opposite of what we can expect from Grassley — and he’ll be abetted by Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), among others. Grassley has made it clear that he wants to block reform.  At one point, he admitted his strategy to delay the process, saying “I’m going to take as much time as I can”–and said that he has no intention of voting for the bill. Also, he relied on the stale “border security” talking point, which the conservative Wall Street Journal pointed out was a bogus argument and just a ploy to kill reform.  (View our fact check of Grassley’s border security arguments here.)

The contrast between Leahy and Grassley could not have been more clear.