Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More on Amnesty

Here is what Jim DeMint has to say about this bill.

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) said Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bears responsibility for the immigration bill after Reid used his powers to guarantee votes on a few amendments while blocking all others. According to the Senate historian, this has never been done before in U.S. history.

“Senator Reid has been trying to portray this immigration nightmare as solely the responsibility of President Bush, but today we saw just how bad Reid wants it. He used his power as Majority Leader to manipulate and abuse the rules of the Senate to ram this bill down our throats. He has set up a process that guarantees votes on a few amendments while blocking all others. This has never been done before, and it’s the most heavy-handed and rigged thing I have ever seen. This bill may have Ted Kennedy’s name on it but it belongs to Harry Reid now.”

After the Senate voted to cut off debate on the question of whether to resurrect the Senate immigration bill, Senator Reid set up unique debate process that guarantees votes several hand-picked amendments but blocks consideration of all others. Senator Reid used a parliamentary tool called a “clay pigeon” to divide a giant amendment into multiple amendments and then moved to block all others. No other member of the Senate besides Reid could have accomplished all of this without being stopped by another Senator. No other Majority Leader in history has done this.

“Republicans need to take a step back and realize what happened today. Senator Reid turned the Senate into the House and fundamentally undermined minority rights,” said Senator DeMint. “I was always told the Senate was the saucer that cooled the pot, but Senator Reid is forcing us to drink straight from the spout. Republicans better wake up soon or they can expect Senator Reid to use this tactic in the future to raise taxes, increase spending, and weaken our national security.”

I agree for the most part with him but that doesn't take away the fact that it is co-owned by President Bush and the "Grand Bargainers" of the GOP in their back room dealings. Stanley Kurtz has it about right.
Something about this immigration battle doesn’t sit well. For all the bitterness of our political battles, there’s at least the sense that the government responds to the drift of public opinion. The Republicans in Congress turned into big spenders and the war in Iraq went poorly. As a result the Democrats prospered in 2006, if narrowly. That’s how democracy works. Our politics are often angry and ugly (and that’s a problem), but this is because the public is deeply divided on issues of great importance. Deep down, we understand that our political problems reflect our own divisions.

Somehow this immigration battle feels different. The bill is wildly unpopular, yet it’s close to passing. The contrast with the high-school textbook version of democracy is not only glaring and maddening, it’s downright embarrassing. Usually, even when we’re at each others’ throats, there’s still an underlying pride in the democratic process. This immigration battle strips us of even that pride.

I’m still stuck on the way this bill was going to be pushed through without a public airing of crucial provisions, in the two or three days before Memorial Day recess. But I should be stuck even further back–on the way this bill was cooked up in a backroom deal that bypassed the ordinary process of public hearings. We take them for granted, but those civics textbook fundamentals are there for a reason. We’re going to pay a steep price for setting the fundamentals aside.

If that is not enough to make you thoroughly disgusted with our leaders, here is an editorial from NRO that highlights the eight Senators that may be convinced to change their vote and come out against cloture in the next vote. Jim Webb, who was just elected and campaigned against amnesty, should be reminded of his campaign promises.
The Senate Tuesday voted to revive its misbegotten immigration bill, with the help of a handful of senators who claim to oppose amnesty but voted to proceed. They are now getting what they voted for, as H. L. Mencken put it, good and hard — with a 370-page “clay pigeon” amendment that is supposed to be digested and voted on by the end of the week. If the bill had been defeated yesterday, it would have been gone for at least two years and probably longer. Instead, it is a little closer to passage. But first it has to overcome another cloture vote scheduled for tomorrow. Again, the bill needs 60 votes to survive.

It got 64 votes yesterday. If all of the senators who voted against cloture stand firm, then, five senators would have to switch to no to defeat the bill on Thursday. Those votes are available from a bipartisan group of eight senators who have profound doubts about this bill. Our reporting suggests these senators are most likely to be persuaded to vote no on Thursday and derail amnesty. They are Sens. Kit Bond (R., Mo.), Sam Brownback (R., Kan.), Richard Burr (R., N.C.), Norm Coleman (R. Minn), John Ensign (R. Nev.), Ben Nelson (D., Neb.), Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) and Jim Webb (D., Va.).

Senators opposed to amnesty tended to justify their votes for cloture Tuesday by saying that they want one last shot at improving the bill. That sounds reasonable enough. But the entire exercise in the Senate is about passing the core “Grand Bargain” — that is, immediate legal status for illegal aliens in exchange for promises of enforcement later. Any amendment that truly threatens the bargain won’t pass, although the Republican Grand Bargainers are willing to go as far as they dare in putting more enforcement around the edges of the deal. For weeks, they insisted that the bill was tough on enforcement, but suddenly it now needs all sorts of enhancements. It is transparent that their commitment to these enhancements begins and ends with the need to pick off enough Republican votes to get through the next cloture vote.

Read it all.