June 6, 2007

Republicans Threaten Filibuster As Immigration Compromise Stumbles

The immigration compromise appears headed for the rocks, as Republicans threatened a filibuster yesterday after Democrats attempted to block them from offering amendments. Neither side has compromised as yet on a list of amendments, and Harry Reid has warned that he will take the bill off of the calendar after this week:

The immigration deal foundered yesterday, on the verge of collapse under its own weight just days after it appeared to have a clear path to pass the Senate.

By late in the afternoon, Republicans were accusing Democrats of trying to "stuff" them, and Democrats said Republicans were trying to kill the bill by obstructing the process. Both sides were saying they don't know whether the process can be put back on track.

A showdown is scheduled for tomorrow, when Democrats said they will force a vote to set a time limit on the bill, and Republicans have promised to block that move through a filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that if Republicans block his effort to limit debate, it would bump the bill off the schedule and likely derail it for the rest of the year.

John Cornyn says he has waited 13 days for a vote on his amendment, which would exclude anyone already ordered deported from the normalization process. Other Republicans have similar complaints. Mitch McConnell wants floor votes on a number of offered amendments, complaining that the back-room compromise left this bill with serious flaws that have to get addressed before its passage.

Democrats worry that amendments such as Cornyn's are designed to force them to take unpopular positions, which could be used against them in 2008. Cornyn's bill is an example. What politician would vote to grant an amnesty for a valid deportation order -- when he has to run for office in a year? This is the main reason why the bill's authors hoped to limit the amendment process in the Senate, and why Reid will attempt to limit debate today.

McConnell and most of the GOP caucus see their way clear with a filibuster. They believe that they can satisfy the Republican base by tubing this bill, and explain to moderates and centrists that without serious amending, it was too flawed to pass anyway. The CBO analysis certainly helps that case, in that it predicts only a 25% improvement in ending illegal immigration.

The only question will be whether they can muster enough votes for a filibuster. They won't have John McCain and Lindsay Graham, of course, and they may not get Jon Kyl. McConnell needs 41 votes, and that only leaves him a buffer of five. If they cannot filibuster the bill, it will pass with its current amendments, and the GOP may not be able to stop it in the House. It's a tough maneuver -- and if Reid pushes cloture, he may already believe he's got the votes for it.

UPDATE: I'm assuming that McConnell will have Jeff Sessions on board for a filibuster. Sessions put together a list of 20 objections Monday to the bill, and he has given detailed references to the actual language. (h/t: CQ reader Keemo)


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Comments (13)

Posted by Keemo | June 6, 2007 8:03 AM

Lindsay Graham has destroyed his credibility over the past few years by saddling up with John McCain & taking an active part in some really bad & harmful political stunts; stunts that have hurt the GOP as well as the nation.

Democrats have Senators that will not vote to support this bill in it's present form; mostly due to polling of their home state. The facts about this bill continue to pour out each day; the facts are very damaging to every politician that has openly tried to push this bill through before the public could review and debate; very damaging to those who participated in the "secret, behind closed doors" sessions; very damaging to G.W. Bush...

Most of all, this bill has damaged the publics trust in government as a whole...

Posted by Ron C | June 6, 2007 8:11 AM

NOTHING would be finer than seeing this treasonous piece of manure fail tomorrow.

Posted by Mike M. | June 6, 2007 8:19 AM

Folks, this is it; over the next day or two they're making the final push to try and ram this monstrosity through. It's more critical than ever now to flood your Senators with calls or e-mails once again!

We're not just talking about the Republican party here, which will have absolutely no chance whatsover of winning in '08 if this passes, we're talking about whether or not the country itself will survive as we've known it our entire lives, or whether we're eventually going to end up similar to hellholes like the Balkans and Iraq. Make those calls!

Posted by Rovin | June 6, 2007 8:43 AM

Dieing Words: (from the Washington Times)

Thomas on borders:
One of the last press releases issued by Sen. Craig Thomas, the Wyoming Republican who died Monday, was headlined "Immigration Deal Badly Bungled."
"What we have before us will grant amnesty at most every turn," the May 17 press release cited Mr. Thomas as saying. "This policy affords a path to citizenship for nearly every type of illegal immigration possible.
"This poorly crafted compromise will end up costing taxpayers trillions of dollars in entitlement spending. ...
"The Heritage Foundation recently reported that if current adult illegal immigrants in the U.S. were granted amnesty, the net retirement costs to government -- their benefits minus taxes -- will be well over $2.5 trillion.
"I'm against creating a special law that rewards illegal behavior by providing a path to citizenship. And I'm against this so-called compromise."

RIP, Craig Thomas---your opinion still shines true.

This year, Mr. Reid says he has given ground -- including adding a second week of debate when Republicans said one week was not enough. Yesterday, he said the Senate must move on to other important business after this week. He has already promised to hold a vote of no confidence on Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales as soon as immigration is completed.

Sure is nice to see Harry's got his prioritys straight?

Posted by RBMN | June 6, 2007 9:23 AM

Cornyn's amendment is redundant. It's purely political. One of the main purposes of identifying each illegal in the first place is matching them up with other lists. They either don't pass the background check, or they turn up dirty in a fingerprint database. They get no Z-visa, OR their Z-visa soon gets invalidated and becomes worthless to them. As it stands now, illegals are not suffering any scrutiny because we don't know where they are. This is just another poison pill.

Posted by Dennis | June 6, 2007 10:49 AM

This shows what lays heart of the problems facing our Republic. Too many see thier J O B in congress as a fight for their party, not as doing what is right for the country.

Posted by patrick neid | June 6, 2007 11:51 AM

this bill, more than anything else, shows what a pathetic bunch the repubs have become.

for the sake of discussion lets reverse parties. i ask you, if the repubs were putting this bill before the senate do you not believe for one moment that the dems would be taking out full page ads showing the american people what the repubs were trying to put past the electorate. instead millions are flocking to the dem party. folks against this bill are being called nativists, bigots etc. even ms chavez is now pointing fingers saying we don't like mexicans. you can't make this stuff up! the dems want open borders yet conservatives are made to look like the bad guys for supporting our sovereignty.

the deficiencies of this bill are so glaring, so amendable with common sense that you would think that the senate could be shamed into correcting them. take senator sessions list. if all of those complaints were addressed along with the most important issue--a complete fence along the border--this bill would pass in a landslide. the immigration debacle would be reasonably fixed.

the repubs should be able to drive this point home to the american people. the fact that they cannot speaks volumes about why they are not fit to rule. sadly the dems are winning by default.

if and when this bill fails the repubs will be blamed. hillary will get 90% of the black, hispanic and jewish vote. that gives her 20% of the total electorate. she only needs 30% of the white vote. rudi has a tough row to hoe.
the repubs deserve everything bad that happens to them. they are continually presented with opportunities to show leadership etc and they squander it. this immigration bill being the latest.

with any kind of leadership they could get several dem senators and dozens of house blue dogs to pass a great bill. instead we get the new village idiots in kyl, mccain and bush. it's too painful to watch.

Posted by Bill Faith | June 6, 2007 12:51 PM

And if Reid follows through on his threat to table the bill for the rest of this year you know what the chances are of it passing in an election year. Put a good man like FDT in the White House and the bill might be salvagable in a couple of years.  I linked from my 2006.06.06 "No Illegal Left Behind" Roundup .

Posted by RBMN | June 6, 2007 12:58 PM

Re: patrick neid at June 6, 2007 11:51 AM

patrick neid wrote: "the repubs deserve everything bad that happens to them"

If you're talking about Republicans in the hysterical lynch mob going after the immigration bill, because it's a compromise with Democrats, I agree. They deserve the mess they end up with. It's very sad and very shortsighted.

Posted by patrick neid | June 6, 2007 1:18 PM


actually i'm not. i'm talking in the larger sense as i mentioned. we need an immigration bill. the fact that the repubs in washington can't even organize to correct some glaring gaps in the bill speaks volumes.

my hope lies in the house-- that blue dog dems and mainstream repubs will enhance the current bill and close some of the loopholes mentioned by senator sessions.
72% of all americans want border enforcement first. we are not getting that in this bill.

Posted by memomachine | June 6, 2007 3:26 PM


@ Mike_M

I think what you're seeing here is just posturing as prep for the post-passage spinning. This way once the bill has been passed they can all stand up one by one in front of the cameras and try to spin hard about how they put the Democrats feet to the fire.

*shrug* what will you do if they pass the bill with a voice-only vote? Who will you take to task?

Posted by poodlemom | June 6, 2007 6:49 PM

According to Mort & Fred on Brit's show; they have reason to believe this bill WILL make it thru. They said contacts in both the Senate and the House (unnamed) said the hue & cry seems to have fallen off, so they feel they will be able to get the bill thru. Brit also mentioned that Bush intends to head to the hill once he returns from Europe.....Bush will be there to twist a few more arms. God, what a disappointment that man has become :-(

RBMN, up until now you sounded like a reasonable guy. Have you REALLY read the info that is available showing all the pitfalls in this monstrosity?

Most reasonable people understand the need to get a handle on illegal immigration, but giving away the farm shouldn't be the way we get it. The illegals are gaining a whole helluva lot more than they are going to be giving up. The rest of our law abiding citizens get to pay thru their noses to finance this debacle.

As I told Senator Specter in my latest email; I neither TRUST or BELIEVE my government any more....it's very painful to admit that. If the government would give an honest effort to close the border, fine employers and start deporting illegals, those of us who doubt the government's willingness to take a strong stand might be more amenable to a comprehensive bill. Evidently, they think we're all hicks from the sticks; they know better than us...the arrogance is astounding!!!

The old saying holds true; screw me once, same on you; screw me twice, shame on me. Yep, I'm getting screwed and I haven't even been kissed.

Yes, I know the futility of contacting Specter's office; he's a co-sponsor of this mess, but I had to make the effort.

Posted by Keemo | June 7, 2007 7:32 AM


Well stated! Yes, we all must make the effort to contact "all" elected officials over this issue. We absolutely "can not" allow these fools to pass this shamnesty bill in it's current form.

Immigration reform is needed following several failed attempts to do so; politicians must be forced to listen to the citizens rather than only hearing those who stuff their wallets and supply them with red light opportunities and free jet rides...