Gang of Eight
Historically it has referred to eight members of Congress: four members, the chair and ranking member, of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Select Committees on Intelligence and the four leaders of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
The Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980 mandated that the CIA “fully and currently [inform]” Congressional oversight committees of their activities including “any significant anticipated intelligence activity.”
In special cases, the Act authorized the President to brief only the majority and minority leaders of each chamber as well as the chairmen and ranking minority members of the Intelligence Committees. It is this group that is informally known as the "Gang of Eight" of Congress.
- U.S. House Committee on Intelligence:
- United States Senate Committee on Intelligence:
Immigration reform bill
Members of the Senate in early May 2013 started targeting as many as two dozen Republicans for a show-of-force majority, which they believe may be the only way an immigation reform bill will have the momentum to force the U.S. House to act. Proponents of immigration reform are looking for votes beyond the usual moderate senators to ones in conservative strongholds such as Utah, Georgia and Wyoming, and targets because they are retiring, representing agricultural states, anxious to get the issue behind the party, important to persuading skittish U.S. House Republicans, or all of the above.
On May 6, 2013 Senators John McCain (R), Chuck Schumer (D), Richard Durbin (D), Robert Menendez (D), Michael Bennet (D), Lindsey Graham (R), Marco Rubio (R), and Jeff Flake (R) unveiled the outlines of their bi-partisan immigration plan. The statement of principles was rather broad, but sets forth “four basic pillars”:
- 1. A “tough but fair path to citizenship . . . .contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country as required”;
- 2. Reform our legal immigration system with a greater eye toward our economic needs;
- 3. Workplace verification; and
- 4. Setting up a system for admitting future workers (although the term “guest worker” is not used).
On June 4, 2013 Marco Rubio, who helped to craft the immigration reform bill, announced that based upon the current status of the bill, he would not support it. Rubio made it clear that the bill must be amended to included specific enforcement procedures that will prevent another influx of illegal immigrants, and without that he will not support the bill because it would not pass in the House. Rubio changed his opinion of the bill in an appearance on ABC's "This Week" on June 16, 2013, in which he said that he supports the vast majority of what is in the bill and sees the final legislation resolving his concerns. Rubio spoke of the bill saying, "It's an excellent starting point. And I think 95, 96 percent of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go. But there are elements that need to be improved."
The House of Representatives passed an amendment defunding President Obama's executive order exempting young illegal immigrants from deportation on June 6, 2013. This was the first immigration-related vote in the House this year. It comes as a test before the Gang of Eight's immigration bill makes it to the House.
Statement from CBO
On June 18, 2013 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a statement that the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill will significantly reduce the federal budget deficit in its first two decades if it becomes law. In the first ten years, the immigration bill is said to reduce the federal deficit by $175 billion, according to the CBO, by cutting the deficit by $197 billion in the first decade, but implementing the bill would cost about $22 billion. In the second 10-year period, the deficit is said to decrease by an additional $700 billion, according to the CBO.
Cornyn amendment tabled
The amendment proposed by John Cornyn (R) was rejected by the Senate in a roll call vote on June 20, 2013. By a 54-43 vote, mostly along party lines, the Senate approved a decision to table the amendment. The amendment would required a 90 percent border apprehension rate, increased surveillance, a biometric exit system and national E-Verify system as prerequisites for newly documented immigrants to gain green-card status.
The Gang of Eight for the most part voted together — with the exception of Marco Rubio, who voted against killing the Cornyn provision. The other three Gang Republicans, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and John McCain of Arizona, voted to table the Cornyn amendment, as did Rand Paul. Two Democrats, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, joined Republicans to vote against tabling the amendment.
Bill passes Senate
On June 27, 2013 in a late afternoon vote, the Senate voted to approve the immigration reform bill, Senate Bill 744. The bill passed by a vote of 68-to-32, with 14 Republicans voting in favor.
Vice President Joe Biden, acting in his constitutional capacity as head of the Senate, took the rare step of presiding over the roll call. During the vote Senators voted from their seats in the chamber, which is also an unusual occurrence.
If enacted, the bill would create a 13-year path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants, while raising the cap on visas for high skilled workers and establishing a new visa program for low skilled workers on America's farms.
A recently added border security amendment, introduced by Sens. John Hoeven (R) of North Dakota and Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee, would require 20,000 more border agents, complete 700 miles of fence along the boundary with Mexico and deploy $3.2 billion in technology upgrades similar to equipment used by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The amendment also strengthens eligibility verification and border entry-exit controls.
Hastert Rule in House
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) on July 8, 2013 ridiculed the House’s strategy of using the “Hastert rule” to pass legislation and said Speaker John Boehner will eventually have to take up the Senate’s immigration bill.
“Eventually he’ll be forced to take the bill that we passed here, or the country will be left with no immigration reform at all. Which is a bad, bad outcome. I remind the speaker there is no shame in passing bills both parties can support,” Reid said.
Impact on 2014 elections and beyond
Several Republican members of the U.S. House might face a tougher path to re-election in 2014 if immigration reform does not pass in the House this year, according to a Public Policy Poll released on July 9, 2013.
According to the poll, a majority of voters in seven Republican congressional districts would be less likely to vote for their current representative if he fails support immigration reform. Voters also reported in the poll that they would be less likely to support Republican candidates in the 2014 general election if the Republican House members block the current immigration reform proposal. The seven Representatives include Jeff Denham, David Valadao and Gary Miller, all of California, Mike Coffman of Colorado, John Kline of Minnesota, Joe Heck of Nevada and Mike Grimm of New York.
Speaker John Boehner told House Republicans in a closed-door meeting on July 10, 2013 that the internal debate over immigration reform is an “important conversation," and that while the House will not take up the Senate-passed bill, members must do something to address the issue.
Since the Senate passed its comprehensive immigration reform bill, House Republicans have the party on their shoulders: if they can’t pass a bill, it could hurt the party's relationship with Hispanic voters for years to come, and cement the idea that the party is a roadblock to bipartisan legislation.
A rare coalition with groups from across the political spectrum are looking for ways to convince member of the House to act. The heads of the conservative American Action Forum, Americans of Tax Reform and the American Conservative Union sent a joint letter to congressional leaders calling for passage of a comprehensive bill. Labor groups are dispatching members to congressional offices and running ads in a dozen House districts. The Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of Christian groups are holding a gathering in Washington D.C. in July 2013.
Pelosi calls for own House bill
Pelosi stated, “I always support the prerogatives of the House, and I want the House to have a bill that goes to conference where the debate will take place. The Senate passing a bill gives leverage to those who want a bill in the House because the pressure is on them to do something if you want to exercise the prerogatives of the House. So we view it as a positive step.”
Her comments came at a news conference with four members of the border caucus — Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) — who voiced strong concerns about the security provisions included in the Senate bill. Calling it a “militarization” of the border, members pointed to the volume of trade between the U.S. and Mexico as being at risk if border security goes too far.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R), the second-ranking House Republican, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R) are working on legislation that would craft a path to legalization for young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children, tentatively titled the Kids Act, as of July 12, 2013.
Though its objective is similar to that of the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow eligible young, undocumented immigrants to obtain citizenship, the "Kids Act" version is certain to have key differences from that legislation, as both Cantor and Goodlatte voted against the DREAM Act in December 2010.
In a statement Goodlatte said, “These children came here through no fault of their own and many of them know no other home than the United States. This is one component of immigration reform — any successful reform plan must improve our legal immigration programs, strengthen border security and the interior enforcement of our immigration laws, and find a way to fairly deal with those who are currently in the country unlawfully.”
Goodlatte noted that it was part of the House Republicans’ “step-by-step” strategy on immigration reform. So far, his committee has passed four bills that overhaul some section of the nation’s immigration laws, while the House Homeland Security Committee has passed a bill on border security.
Democratic members meet with labor groups
The four Democratic members of the Gang of Eight announced that they would meet with prominent labor groups and pro-reform immigration organizations on July 24, 2013 to coordinate efforts heading into the August recess. Among the groups participating in the meeting are America’s Voice, the AFL-CIO and the National Immigration Law Center.
The meeting follows a similar session between all senators in the Gang of Eight, except for Marco Rubio (R), and a variety of business lobbyists, which triggered some backlash, particularly with the lawmakers’ strategy of listing more than 100 House Republicans who could be persuaded to vote for immigration reform. One lobbyist who participated in the meeting said the session was not very welcomed by the business community.
Another meeting with that same group had been scheduled and subsequently called off. An aide to a Gang of Eight senator said the session was cancelled because of “scheduling concerns.” “The dialogue between the members of the Gang of Eight and the groups will still continue,” the aide said.
Notable support for the immigration reform bill
In addition to numerous Democratic senators, notable Republicans and Republican groups have announced their support for the bill.
- United States Senate
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- Leadership positions in state legislatures
- U.S. Senate website
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- ABC News "Who Are the Gang Of 8 in Senate Immigration Debate?"
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 ABC News "Who Are the Gang Of 8 in Senate Immigration Debate?" Accessed May 7, 2013
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Washington Post "Gang of Eight immigration plan: Reality-based legislating" Accessed May 7, 2013
- ↑ The Hill "Schumer introduces comprehensive immigration reform bill" Accessed August 5, 2013
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Congressional Research Service "Gang of Four" Accessed May 21, 2013
- ↑ The New York Times "Report Questions Legality of Briefings on Surveillance" January 19, 2006
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Washington Post "Rubio currently opposes own immigration bill" Accessed June 5, 2013
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Politico "Rubio: Most of immigration bill in 'perfect shape'" Accessed June 17, 2013
- ↑ Fox News, "House votes to resume deporting young DREAM Act immigrants," Accessed June 10, 2013
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Politico "CBO score brings good news for Gang of Eight" Accessed June 19, 2013
- ↑ Politico "Roll Call Vote: Cornyn Amendment" Accessed June 20, 2013
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Politico "Senate kills John Cornyn border security amendment" Accessed June 20, 2013
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 NY Times "Immigration Overhaul Passes in Senate" Accessed June 27, 2013
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 CNN "Senate passes sweeping immigration bill" Accessed June 27, 2013
- ↑ Politico "Harry Reid needles John Boehner over Hastert rule" Accessed July 8, 2013
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ 16.0 16.1 16.2 Politico "7 GOPers who need immigration vote" Accessed July 9, 2013
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Politico "Behind closed doors, Boehner pushes immigration action" Accessed July 10, 2013
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 Yahoo "Liberal, conservative groups push for immigration bill in the House" Accessed July 10, 2013
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Politico "Nancy Pelosi: House should pass its own immigration bill" Accessed July 10, 2013
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 Politico "Eric Cantor, Bob Goodlatte eye bill for undocumented children" Accessed July 12, 2013
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 Politico "Gang of Eight Democrats huddle with labor groups" Accessed July 24, 2013
- ↑ The Washington Post, "Ominous signs of progress for immigration bill," Accessed June 20, 2013
- ↑ Politico "Orrin Hatch op-ed backs Senate immigration plan" Accessed June 25, 2013