In January, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined a group of eight senators working to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. Appearing on a series of conservative talk radio stations to promote the plan, the first-term senator characterized the effort as “the first step” in the long road toward fixing the nation’s broken immigration system and said he expected to incorporate changes from both President Obama and the American public before any bill could become law.
“All we can come up with is a starting point…there are, you know, 94 other senators who have opinions about what this law should look like and there is the American public and there is the House and the Executive Branch so obviously people are going to have some input as to what they want it to look like …this is the first step, this is the architecture,” Rubio told Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey in January.
But on Sunday, Rubio signaled that he has little actual interest in collaborating with the White House on reform. After USA Today published a leaked and incomplete draft of President Obama’s immigration reform bill — which resembles 2007’s bipartisan legislation and Rubio’s own principles — the first-term senator rushed a statement condemning the administration for contributing to the very debate he claimed would be incomplete without its input. Rather than offering a constructive critique of the leaked portions or highlighting areas of similarity, Rubio announced that Obama’s bill is “disappointing to those of us working on a serious solution” and is “dead on arrival in Congress.”
The statement, designed to convince conservatives that the immigration reform principles Rubio supports differ drastically from Obama’s, is particularly jarring in light of the senator’s past insistance that the president should lead on immigration.
Earlier this year, Rubio told the Wall Street Journal that Obama has “not done a thing” on reform and is likely using the issue to mobilize the Democratic base. During the presidential campaign, Rubio criticized Obama for failing to achieve reform in his first term. “His party controlled Congress for two years,” he told Fox News in October, “and they did absolutely nothing.”
But now that Obama is engaged with the issue, Rubio is still outraged: He’s claiming that the president is undermining the Congressional legislative process by developing an alternative plan should bipartisan talks break down while complaining that Obama isn’t involved enough in one-on-one conversations with lawmakers.