Senate Balks on Immigration Reform


Some time ago I predicted that a comprehensive immigration bill would not pass this year.  I was, and am, nearly positive that the House has no intention of passing a bill.  Now, I’m not so sure it will find a way out of the Senate, which is balking on the reform bill.

Republicans and Democrats find a way to disagree about everything in 2013.  They can’t find agreement on procedure today, increasing doubt that they will find any common ground on the actual legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked for an early vote on several Republican amendments, including increased border security.  Republicans pushed back and refused to agree on a super majority of 60 votes.

The battle is being waged over amendments proposed by Republicans that would severely alter the bipartisan agreement that came out of committee.  Republicans were certain that an early vote might reject some of their amendments, and Democrats see a simple majority as a way for those amendments to pass, favoring the Republican position.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, an opponent of the bill, called Reid’s move “provocative” and said if a 60-vote threshold is required “it really looks like the fix is in and the bill’s rigged to pass basically as it is.”

Reid was quick to point out that Republicans have often demanded the 60 vote requirement for other significant legislation.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, a leading critic of the bill, also complained that, “We can’t just throw up a bunch of amendments here at the beginning and people haven’t had time to digest them.”

The bottom line is that Republicans do not want immigration reform.  Although reform is one of the most serious issues facing our nation, and involving over 11 million people, it appears that Congress will fail to find agreement on the issue.

Those following the process closely are aware that border security would be the method used to block any form of legislation this year.  Grassley and Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, have proposed an amendment that would forbid the passage of any amendments until an amendment requiring proof that the government has ended 90 percent of illegal border crossings is passed.

Reid rightfully called the requirement a “poison pill” because a guarantee of that magnitude is virtually impossible.

However, both parties are aware that a complete immigration bill will not pass without serious discussion about border security.

Just three months ago, GOP agreed that passing immigration reform was essential to the future of the Republican Party.

The leadership body of the Republican Party, the RNC, continues to maintain the importance of a comprehensive immigration reform for their party, but internally there is deep division.

In the Republican controlled House, there is an extreme division.  Speaker John Boehner said that the House “will have its own version,” an indication that there may two distinctly different bills before Congress.

The official position of the RNC is pointedly in favor of passing a bill, but vague as to what they believe the content should be.

“We are encouraged by the leadership from Republicans in the House and Senate working to fix our broken immigration system and will continue to work with Republican leaders to ensure the GOP message reaches the Hispanic community,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “Jennifer S. Korn will be leading this grassroots effort to engage the Hispanic community at a local level including building a long-term presence in communities across the country. As we continue to strengthen our relationship with the Hispanic community, we will address many of the issues Republicans are working on including immigration, jobs, and the economy.”

Meanwhile, the Senate is in a virtual stalemate.  Balking on procedure does not bode well for serious discussion on immigration reform.  Once again, in the United States, politics trump government.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express