WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The prospects for comprehensive immigration reform passing both the Democratically-led Senate and the Republican-led House of Representatives continue to shrink with each passing day.
The bipartisan-negotiated Senate bill from the so-called “Gang of Eight,” made it to the floor of the Senate this week. However, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is seen as key to getting the legislation passed in the Senate continued to threaten to pull his support if the bill isn’t moved further to the right.
“If this bill has something in it that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I’m done,” Senator Rubio told the Andrea Tantaros Show. “I’m off it, and I’ve said that repeatedly.”
In addition, Rubio’s continued disgust with the health care law showed up in an amendment he co-sponsored with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that would ban newly legalized immigrants from accessing health care tax credits and subsidies.
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program already require similar five-year waiting periods.
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.
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.