Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Immigration Bill...what really happened?

That is a question being answered in a memo now circulating on the Hill.
It is a PDF file but well worth reading it all about what they don't want you to know. Just a few excerpts from the memo. It has more to do with process than substance but does answer some questions.

There are three primary reasons the bill failed:

* The complicated legislation, constantly being tweaked by the White House and Deal-Makers, is full of loopholes and problems that deserved amendment and full consideration -- consideration denied by the Democrats.

* The White House, certain Democrats and the Deal-Makers blatantly disregarded the legislative process -- drafting the bill behind closed doors, skipping the committee process, jamming the bill through the system, limiting the number and type of amendments that could be offered and trying to close down debate on the bill long before appropriate concerns with the bill had been addressed fully.

The handful of Senators in the coalition never showed the bill to anyone prior to dumping it on the Senate and demanding that the committee process be bypassed and the debate schedule truncated. Even Harry Reid could not abide that kind of arrogance and extended the debate so that people could actually read the bill. The Senate then took on the role of Committee Of The Whole, but on such an accelerated rate that Reid had to ration the number of amendments. In the end, he didn't leave enough time for the bill to have its proper review, and it failed -- and quite properly.

Regardless of the merits and demerits of the bill, this process was atrocious and arrogant. Had the bill come through committee as was proper, we wouldn't have had the parliamentary free-for-all we saw these last two weeks. It would have allowed for interested parties to carefully peruse the legislation, fix its myriad problems, and have an intelligent debate over amendments. Instead, we had the ridiculous fire drill of a nine-day scrum to determine the overhaul of our entire immigration and border security systems, starting in ignorance and ending in ignominy.

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile thanks to Captain Ed at Captains Quarters, we hear about a couple of defectors.

In a development that underscores the death of the current bill, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isaacson appear to have defected from the Grand Coalition, and now want a supplemental spending bill that focuses on border security:

We believe the way to build greater support for immigration reform in the United States Senate and among the American public is to regain the trust in the ability of the federal government to responsibly administer immigration programs and enforce immigration laws. There is bipartisan agreement that we need to secure our borders first, and we believe this approach will serve as a platform towards addressing the other issues surrounding immigration reform.

To that end, we believe that you and your administration could alleviate many of the fears of our constituents by calling for an emergency supplemental bill to fully fund the border and interior security initiatives contained in legislation currently pending in the Senate, as well as any outstanding existing authorizations. Such a move would show your commitment to securing the border first and to stopping the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into our nation. It will also work towards restoring the credibility of the federal government on this critical issue.

"Outstanding existing authorizations" means the 854 miles of border
barriers authorized and funded by the last Congress. Build that, and we'll get back to you, Chambliss and Isaacson told the President in this statement.

Update: Having read this memo of unknown pedigree I feel that I need to add a caveat.If this memo and what it says it true, then the lawmakers in DC are living in more of a bubble and sequestered from the people than even I could imagine or the writer is looking through the wrong end of the telescope. I personally think/hope that the hundreds of thousands of e-mails and phone calls and letters written to the Senators by ordinary voters had something to do with this defeat. Everything that I have read says that all of the communications reaching DC from the voting public ran 99 to 1 against this legislation. It may be naive of me to think that the American people had as much to do with this past defeat as the egotism and feeling of being dissed by their colleagues that led to the defeat of this rotten piece of legislation.