Bipartisan immigration overhaul legislation may not be released until at least Wednesday out of respect for the tragic events that took place during the Boston Marathon on Monday.
“We may delay it until Wednesday because of this Boston tragedy,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain is one of eight senators in the bipartisan group working to draft the bill, which they had hoped to unveil Tuesday.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is also a member of the group, echoed McCain, noting that the delay in the bill’s unveiling was in deference to the victims of Monday’s bombing.
Their comments came after McCain, Flake and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., briefed Republican senators on the bill Monday night. Senate Democratic members of the group are expected to brief their colleagues Wednesday.
The GOP response was “generally favorable,” said McCain, who noted that many of his colleagues said they wanted to see the bill before making any decisions. “That’s understandable,” he said.
Flake agreed that the conversation inside the GOP meeting was positive and left him hopeful about the bill’s prospects.
“It was a good discussion,” he said. The senators’ reaction was “positive,” he added. “I’m more optimistic by the day.”
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, was more circumspect about the bill’s chances.
“They have worked real hard to satisfy a lot of people, but until you read the bill you really don’t know,” he said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who has been critical of the behind-closed-door process, was also very skeptical.
Citing the film “The Bridge On the River Kwai,” Sessions said,“Sometimes you can fall in love with your product.”
He said the briefing was “very general” and that “in this kind of thing, I just learned that until you see the legislative language, general promises are hard to take really seriously.”
Sessions said he’s concerned that the bill will hurt low-income workers, who will have to compete with the newly legalized immigrants. He also said he believes the two hearings announced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., are “totally inadequate.”
Sessions and some other Republicans, including Rubio, have called for multiple hearings on the legislation.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, a veteran member of the Judiciary Committee, said he was encouraged by what he had heard. “I think people were open to listening,” he said.
Asked before the meeting about the path to citizenship in the legislation that Rubio outlined on Sunday, Hatch said, “ I think we might be able to support that.”
Others also said they wanted to wait and see the bill before deciding their support.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said he would withhold final judgment until after the measure gets to the Senate floor, but he said he was pleased that a bipartisan group was working on the issue.
“I’m encouraged that we have a group of such good senators who’ve worked on it,” Alexander said.
“The bill won’t be available for a couple of days, and even then I’m going to let it go through the hearing,” Alexander continued. “I’m going to try to learn from it when it comes to the floor.”
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.