Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida Senator Marco Rubio may be looking for an escape hatch from the bipartisan immigration reform he helped put together as a member of the Gang of Eight in the U.S. Senate.
Senator Rubio put together the reform package with bipartisan support, but Monday, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt he would vote against the bill if more isn’t done to “strengthen the border security parts of the bill so that they’re stronger.”
Rubio’s support for the immigration reform plan about to hit the Senate floor has been crucial to getting GOP support for the bill. However, Rubio, who may have plans to run for the White House in 2016, knows he can’t go too far politically with Democrats if he wants to win a primary.
The junior Senator from Florida must try politically to look bipartisan in supporting the bill to win moderate Republicans and independents, but must also lean conservative enough to win over the most conservative wings of the GOP.
Politically speaking, by publicly threatening to vote against the bill, Rubio has built an escape hatch that can allow him to take credit for the bill if it passes and if it doesn’t, still take credit for trying to reform immigration and blame Democrats for the bills failure.
Monday, Rubio warned the bill doesn’t have 60 votes in the Senate, which until the last two Congresses had never been the threshold to get legislation passed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid along with Senators Chuck Schumer and John McCain said they hoped to win 70 votes and believe the bill can pass.
Even if the bill passes the Senate by a wide margin, it still has to pass the GOP-led House, likely with Democratic support. But, it’s not certain Speaker of the House John Boehner would allow the Senate bill to come up for a vote if he has to rely on Democrats to help pass the bill.