One of the questions heading into today’s cloture vote on immigration was how Senator Norm Coleman would vote. Coleman had voted in favor of bringing the bill back to the floor, perplexing the bill’s opponents and putting Coleman squarely in the middle of the drama today.
Coleman voted against cloture today, joining seventeen other Senators in sending the bill back to the grave, this time apparenly for good. What changed? Coleman explains in his statement today that the process itself convinced him that the bill would never improve enough to support:
Today I voted against moving the immigration bill forward. It became increasingly clear that there were still too many problems with this bill and not enough time to correct them. Throughout this debate, the American people did not trust that the Congress or the President had the resolve to secure the border. In the end, their suspicions rang true, as we were unable vote on amendments to strengthen the border and workplace enforcement mechanisms, as well as ending the practice of so called “sanctuary cities”.
From the beginning, this bill was hastily put together; it skipped the committee process, and was rushed to a conclusion on the floor. In the end, we must find a way to bring the more than 12 million illegal immigrants out of the shadows. However, we must do so in a way that determines who is living inside our country, secures our borders, and restores the rule of law to our immigration policies and enforcement. I remain hopeful that we can successfully address this issue sometime in the future, because we must.
Congress lost the trust of the people and of a significant number of its own members through its failure to act, and its failure to properly develop the bill in such a way that Senators could fix its fatal flaws. Coleman had had enough, as had most everyone else.
Bush has announced that he will not return to this bill, instead focusing on the upcoming budget debates. Congress still needs to address border security and visa reform, however, and they had better do so soon. If Congress and the White House want some credibility in the future to pursue normalization, they have a chance now to start building it with real action and above-board legislation.