Border Security Finally Gets Addressed (Update: 89-1 Approved)

The Senate finally decided to listen to their constituents and allocate funds for increased border security and visa tracking today, after an overnight compromise between Democrats and Republicans. The agreement puts the White House in a bind, as President Bush had already threatened to veto the homeland security bill for spending too much money:

Senate Democrats and Republicans came together Thursday to devote an additional $3 billion to gaining control over the U.S.-Mexico border, putting Congress on a path to override President Bush’s promised veto of a $38 billion homeland security funding bill.
The deal resurrects a GOP plan launched Wednesday to pass some of the most popular elements of Bush’s failed immigration bill, including money for additional Border Patrol agents and fencing along the southern border. …
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, resolved their differences overnight and announced agreement Thursday morning. Cornyn won a promise to have some of the money used to go after immigrants who had entered the United States legally but had overstayed their visas.

Yesterday, an amendment offered by Lindsey Graham on this very basis got rejected by the Democrats as non-germane to the underlying bill on a party-line vote. The Democrats apparently reconsidered overnight, after Harry Reid admitted that he misunderstood the thrust of the amendment. The Senate just voted on this amendment again, and it passed, although several Senators missed the vote and afterwards demanded recognition that they would have voted in its support.
This will put Bush in a tough position. He wanted to veto the bill on the basis of overspending, an action that would help assist the GOP on fiscal responsibility. Now, however, the Republican caucus would likely override a veto to ensure that the border-control funds get approved and the border fence extended. It kicks out a key piece of leverage out from under the White House on a pork-laden bill that probably should get reconsidered.
The amendment does move towards better border security and visa management, even it is just a start on both. It funds more fully the efforts approved in the last Congress, but it does more than that. It gives Congress an opportunity to build trust with the American public by actually securing the borders and plugging the obvious holes in our visa management systems. If Congress can deliver on their promises in those two areas, we can once again revisit the question of what we do with the existing illegals after we’ve blocked entry for any more illegal entries. It could put real reform on the plate for a future session of Congress — assuming that the executive branch follows suit and fulfills the requirements now funded by Congress.
In all likelihood, the administration will probably wait for a more propitious opportunity to utilize a veto. The Democratic Congress will undoubtedly provide more such opportunities on future appropriations bills. Let’s get started on real border security now.
UPDATE: The Graham amendment passed 89-1. The lone holdout? George Voinovich, R-OH. Ten Senators did not vote, including Norm Coleman for obvious reasons, but also presidential contenders John McCain and Barack Obama. Kent Conrad and Ron Wyden were the two Senators who complained that they did not get the opportunity to vote in support of the amendment.
Border security looks a lot more bipartisan than it did two months ago, doesn’t it?

14 thoughts on “Border Security Finally Gets Addressed (Update: 89-1 Approved)”

  1. “The Democrats apparently reconsidered overnight, after Harry Reid admitted that he misunderstood the thrust of the amendment.”
    Yeah, yeah, we “misunderstood”, yeah, that’ll fly.
    Sounds better than ‘constituents at home called and emailed last night and threatened us’.

  2. “This will put Bush in a tough position. He wanted to veto the bill on the basis of overspending, an action that would help assist the GOP on fiscal responsibility.”
    Wrong issue to get fiscally responsible on. That ship sailed a few budgets ago.
    Now release the two border agents and quit wasting money on their unjust incarceration. Now that is fiscal responsibilty George.

  3. It’s going to take more than one ‘agreement’ over one bill to build trust – that’s going to be a long time in coming.
    I agree with KauaiBoy – free the border agents – and let them do their job!!!

  4. So we should spend billions on wasteful pork just because less than 8% of it is devoted to a worthy project?
    That is precisely the sort of thinking that got us into the spending morass we now enjoy.

  5. Veto it, and sign it with reduced spending and with the Graham amedment any way. 89 -1 who’s going to take it out, later?

  6. Let’s hope that if/when they actually start building the fence that they survey the land properly so that it doesn’t have to be torn down and money/time wasted. Let’s also hope that BP agents get hired and encouraged to do their duty since a) the temporary allocation of National Guardsmen (implemented as a small carrot during the push for amnesty) is now being drawn down, and b) the agency has been demoralized by a government that has discouraged their mission.
    While this is an important step in the right direction even though it is “unanimously” considered an unpopular policy, we’ll need to scrutinize this bill just like all of the others to see exactly what concessions were made. I trust these legislators as far as I can throw them. On this issue, I trust the President even less. Let’s see what hurdles get thrown in the way to delay the public’s demands even though, superficially, this is a federal expenditure worth “wasting.”
    Now keep an eye on vast increases in the caps of all VISAs. This is very likely to be the target of more legislation that will be drafted under the radar and supported by even the security conscious members.
    Remain vigilant and trust but verify. Actually, don’t trust at all. Just verify.

  7. Captain ………….we know what to do with existing illegals.
    Uphold the laws on the books and send them back to their countries of origin. What is so hard about that to understand ………..???
    Also …………..if Fred Thompson is to be a serious candidate …..he best get rid of his …… “Open Borders Icon” ………… Spencer Abraham.
    Before Abraham was energy secretary, he was the Senator from Michigan, who successfully led efforts to reduce the effectiveness of the 1996 Immigration Reform legislation. He was defeated for re-election by Debbie Stabenow, in part because of his anti-enforcement politics.
    How bad could Spencer Abraham be? In 1997, La Raza gave him its “Defender of the Melting Pot” award.
    Thompson must also address how he comes down on the Security and Prosperity Partnership ( and the North American Union …otherwise ….he is dead meat ……at least here in Texas.

  8. Possible good news but still remains to be seen.
    Also today from Hazelton, Pa. – bad news. See how the fed won’t allow enforcement of immigration laws. As long as we can’t enforce and DEPORT illegal aliens, we will continue to lose our sovereignty and the rule of law. All for the sake of cheap, illegal labor.
    Mexican flags will be flying in Hazelton today!! Pass the salsa amigo!

  9. RG, that should be "Also today from Hazelton, Pa. – bad news. One Clinton
    appointee won’t allow enforcement of immigration laws but the city is
    appealing." It may make for an interesting SCOTUS case before the dust settles.

    I excerpted and linked

  10. And Bill, appeals, appeals, appeals…….and each day, another 3,000 or so cross into our country. And Bush, Kennedy, McCain, etc. just keep on stalling, delaying and talking about “securing the border”.
    It’s all nonsense. They have deals with Mexico (and Canada) no doubt to create a sort of North American Union I’m sure.
    Bush thinks he can pull it off without losing US sovereignty and independence……sort of like he thought he could pull off Iraq without much trouble. Do I detect a pattern here…….?

  11. Without the “pork” this bill would very likely not pass, and this is the most disgusting element of the old “politics as usual” game that Congress has raised to a fine art.
    They have to be bribed with our money, to do what they need to do for the preservation of our country. Have a nice day!

  12. myself and many others here told the president, congress and anyone that would listen that this was the approach to take starting a couple of years ago. border first and then the other.
    better late than never. if this ever makes it to bush’s desk and he vetoes it i hope they shove it up his arse with a huge over ride vote. He has never, ever been for closing the border along with his side kick loser over at Homeland security. And in a bit of absolute cheek he’s acting frugal He never met a spending bill he previously did not sign. His and the repub congress spending cost them the last election. Now he pretends to have religion so he can leave the border open. All the while running out that canard about jobs americans won’t do. Lying by telling half truths. Yes, americans won’t do the jobs. Why? Because the pay is too low. cut down on the illegals and wages will rise and americans will be only to happy to do the jobs for a fair wage.
    Anyway this bill is a start. The details will be closely followed.

  13. Has anybody else noticed that we already have the H2A and H2B visa classifications for seasonal agricultural and non-agricultural workers (I forget which is which)? And it’s capped at 66,000, with some provision for returnees, by Congress?
    Congress recently floored, debated and approved an increase from 60,000 to 66,000. Why not a one-sentence bill to raise it to 600,000? And maybe a program to backfill all the illegals here right now for the harvest season, so they can get papered up so they can go home, and in the spring get on a bus LEGALLY and come back up for the next season?
    Many such illegals stay in the US so they can avoid the hell they go through getting in again. The Bracero program worked well in the late ’50’s and early ’60’s. Just put into gear again.
    That would leave dope-runners and assorted criminal types trying to run the border, and they could be dealt with accordingly.

  14. What a surprise…
    From NumbersUSA (July 26, 2007) in regard to H.R. 2638:
    Border Security Funding Agreed To; REAL ID Compliance Dollars Rejected; Some Senators Push Amnesties

    Also during yesterday’s debate, Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) indicated that they will back border security funding schemes that also include the AgJOBS amnesty (which would grant legal status to 1.5 million illegal alien agricultural workers) and the DREAM Act amnesty (which would be a rolling amnesty for illegal alien children). Their efforts may not bear fruit in the DHS appropriations debate, but they have suggested that they will offer these amnesties again in the future and, perhaps, as revised stand-alone measures; to that point, Reid “committed to doing something about AgJOBS.”

    Note also that this same debate is producing law that will dramatically expand the VISA Waiver Program through DHS (remember, this is Secretary Chertoff’s domain) oversight. See NumbersUSA’s “Visa Waiver Program Expansion In 9/11 Commission Bill”:

    The VWP enabled convicted 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to enter the U.S. using just his French passport in 2001 and would have likely allowed shoe bomber Richard Reid, a British citizen, into the United States later that year. As DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff rightly said recently, “When we identify areas where we are vulnerable, it becomes obvious that Europeans traveling without visas belong to these areas.” And yet, the Senate believes that expanding the VWP is in the best interest of the United States – and that adding it to a bill in response to the 9/11 tragedy is the appropriate place to do such a thing.

    Very little has changed, folks. Fed policy will just be more creative in endorsing/passing laws accommodating illegal alien expansion though, as is Congressional expertise and its stock in trade, it will throw lots of money at the problem to cajole an angry public. The promise of funds, even after actual delivery, still remains a facade to conceal their still near unanimous desire to keep the cheap labor coming.
    We are still being hoodwinked.

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