As President Barack Obama touts the economic benefits of passing sweeping immigration reform, a top Senate Republican sounded the alarm ahead of a major test vote on Monday –saying the chamber is about to vote on a bill "no one has read."
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., accused the Senate of rushing to vote on the immigration overhaul legislation amid a late push to modify it, reports Fox News.com. At issue is a border security amendment being touted by supporters as bipartisan compromise that could attract a large majority.
But Sessions accused Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of rushing and cramming the amendment into the "1,200 page" bill in an attempt to gather at least 60 votes to advance the bill toward passage on Monday afternoon, possibly before the holiday recess.
Sponsors behind the border security amendment – Senators Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and John Hoeven, N.D. – defended their amendment against attacks by Sessions.
"I've seen reports of a '1,200 page bill' no one has read or had time to read," Corker said in a statement, presumably in response to Sessions. "To be clear, the tough border and interior enforcement provisions that Sen. Hoeven and I offered on Friday make up 119 pages added to the 1,100 pages that have been public since May."
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) equated the legislative process for the immigration bill to passage of Obama's Affordable Care Act in an op-ed published Monday.
"Sound familiar? Pass it to find out what’s in it?" He wrote. "Reminiscent of Obamacare, the lengthy amendment to replace the Gang of 8’s original bill was crafted behind closed doors and introduced late on Friday, after many members had left town."
Cruz went on to explain, "Given only a weekend to review the language, we will now vote on whether to end a debate that never really began."
Cruz said it will "not be a difficult vote" and "on process alone, we should all vote no."
The group of senators who crafted the bill, the so-called Gang of Eight, hopes to get 70 votes in the Democrat-controlled Senate to give the bill momentum as it heads into the Republican-controlled house.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) told CNN the bipartisan support for the legislation that should result in the 70 votes also will put "huge pressure" on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, not to block immigration reform.
Some Republicans believe the immigration bill will pass the Senate but fail in the House.
"It's dead on arrival in the House," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on Sunday.
His office said the proposal would require an "unprecedented surge of security" on the border.
Meanwhile, President Obama is scheduled to meet with eight CEO's in a Monday afternoon meeting scheduled just hours before the Senate holds a key test vote on a border security amendment. The measure could help the bill garner more Republican support.
Obama is expected to highlight new estimates about the bill's impact on the national deficit. The Congressional Budget Office says the bill would reduce the deficit by about $200 billion over the next 10 years and by about $700 billion over the following decade. The CBO report also said it would increase the real GDP by up to 3.3 percent in 2023, and by 5.4 percent in 2033.
The so-called Border Surge amendment was proposed last week included provisions like 70,000 additional U.S. border agents and 700 more miles of border fencing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.