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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Reid Changes Strategy: Immigration Reform Bill Faces Full Senate Gantlet

The Washington Times - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s vow last week to put the immigration bill through the regular Senate process of committee hearings and floor amendments may sound inconsequential, but it marks a major shift for the Nevada Democrat.

In 2007, the last time the chamber took up immigration, Mr. Reid twice tried to shoehorn a bill through the chamber under tightly controlled rules that locked out most debate. He was rebuffed both times, and the measure ultimately imploded under the weight of a bipartisan filibuster.

“I look back in retrospect and say it was a mistake not to go through the committee process last time,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, one of Mr. Reid’s top lieutenants, told reporters. . . .

History’s lessons
The 2007 bill had just enough for everyone to dislike, which helped prompt the bipartisan filibuster that blocked it.

It’s unclear what this year’s bill will look like because the “Gang of Eight” has produced only a five-page framework.

One key question is whether the Gang of Eight will feel obliged to stand together in defending its grand bargain against all amendments, or whether the lawmakers instead will be free to vote their consciences.

The last time, defending the bargain led to striking votes in which Mr. Kennedy, a labor union defender, voted against labor’s wishes, and in which Mr. Kyl voted against stiffer enforcement provisions.

Mr. Sharry said he expects Mr. Sessions, who informally led the opposition in 2007, to try to offer some of those same enforcement amendments to try to divide supporters of the bill.

Indeed, a Republican Senate aide told The Washington Times that the Republicans will home in on security and enforcement amendments and said the bill “faces an uphill climb.”

One of the groups that rallied voters to make phone calls, shutting down the Senate switchboard, has panned the latest effort.

“This is not a serious plan for comprehensive immigration reform; it is a comprehensive special-interest New Year’s wish list, in which everyone gets something except the American people,” said Rosemary Jenks, government relations director for Numbers USA. “Unfortunately, all Americans get is the bill, which they will have to pay with their jobs and their tax dollars.”

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