WASHINGTON – As lawmakers grapple with the complex issue of immigration and the fate of nearly 800,000 “DREAMers,” one voice seems conspicuously missing from the effort: Sen. Marco Rubio.
The Florida Republican was an original member of the “Gang of Eight,” the bipartisan group of senators that crafted the last comprehensive immigration bill in 2013. It passed the Senate but died when the GOP-controlled House refused to take it up.
But Rubio has not been involved in the latest immigration overhaul effort which is now starting to take shape on Capitol Hill at the prodding of President Trump.
Five of the original “Gang of Eight,” and one new Republican senator, are now the focus of attention on Capitol Hill and they announced Thursday they have the framework of a deal. Members of the group presented an outline to President Trump Thursday, who did not endorse the plan.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said there is no deal yet, but “we still think we can get there.” It is also not clear House Republicans are interested in accepting the work of a bipartisan Senate working group.
“We have a proposal in principle that we’re sharing with our colleagues and I think there’s gonna be a lot of interest,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who went to the White House Thursday. “I think that will matter to the president.”
Rubio downplays his absence from the various groups working on the issue, pointing out he does not sit on the Judiciary Committee, which handles immigration legislation. And he’s encouraged others are getting involved, in hopes that it forges a broader solution both parties can get behind.
“I’m glad that there are some new voices involved in this,” he told reporters Wednesday, pointing to GOP Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Thom Tillis of North Carolina who had been in some negotiations, though are not part of the bipartisan group of six. “That’s a positive development.”
By Ledyard King and Eliza Collins for USA TODAY
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