Back in April, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., stood before cameras with the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” and joked he wasn’t quite sure he was ready to sign onto their comprehensive immigration reform plan.
“Actually, I changed my mind,” Rubio joked to laughter as he pretended to walk away from the podium. “No, I’m kidding.”
But fast forward four months after the bill he helped craft passed the Senate, and Rubio’s not joking anymore. Instead of advocating for the comprehensive bill he signed onto, Rubio’s now saying a piecemeal approach is more “realistic.”
As first reported by Breitbart News, a spokesman for Rubio said “a series of individual bills” on immigration reform may be more practical than comprehensive immigration reform at this time.
“The Senate has already dealt with this issue, and Senator Rubio has always said we should give the House the time and space they need to figure what reforms they can support. But in order to make progress, we need to be realistic in our expectations,” Alex Conant, a spokesman for Rubio, told ABC News. “An ‘all or nothing’ strategy on immigration reform would result in nothing. What is keeping us from progress on a series of immigration issues on which there is strong consensus is the fear that a conference committee on a limited bill will be used to negotiate a comprehensive one. We should take that option off the table so that we can begin to move on the things we agree on.”
Conant told Politico that Rubio always favored a piecemeal approach but decided to forgo it to help strike a bipartisan solution.
“Unlike many of the proponents of reform in the Democratic party, he did so despite strong opposition within his own party and at a significant and well-documented political price,” Conant said.
Rubio’s political standing among conservatives took a hit in the months after he championed comprehensive immigration reform as part of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight.” Republicans in the House of Representatives have made clear they oppose the comprehensive plan which passed the Senate in June and instead favor a piecemeal approach to immigration reform.
President Obama urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform by year’s end.
This post has been updated.