6/22 7:30am update: John Hawkins reports on the inside story of what’s happening with shamnesty. Upshot:
My source tells me that he thought the amnesty proponents definitely had the upper hand last week, but now, he thinks the momentum may be swinging back the other way. He also said that he thinks the best chance to stop the bill will be on the initial cloture vote. He said that he’s hoping that a coalition of conservatives who think this is a bad bill, liberals who think this bill is too tough, and Republican Senators worried about losing minority rights because of the “clay pigeon” strategy will get together and block the bill. If that doesn’t happen, the pro-amnesty side won’t have won, but the odds will shift a bit more in their favor.
Lou Dobbs: Are you at this point are going to support cloture or vote against it?
McCaskill: “I’ll vote against it. I think that we are being premature with this legislation in many ways…We’ve got to shut down the magnet, which are the jobs these people are coming across the border for and until we get serious about that in this country, it’s not going to make any difference what laws we pass.
Keep up the heat and the momentum. It is making a difference.
Here’s what NumbersUSA is telling its members about the next 10 days:
Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) seems to be changing the schedule several times a day now, but ….
STEP 1: THE START-DEBATE CLOTURE
All of our Senate sources and most on-the-Hill news sources say they do not believe the first amnesty vote will be until next week. That would be the vote on cloture that would allow the Kennedy/Bush amnesty bill back on the floor for debate.
The most common expectation is that the first cloture vote won’t happen until Tuesday.
Sen. Reid, however, is still holding out a remote possibility of having the first cloture vote tomorrow night (Friday) after 7 p.m.
So, if we are to keep any other votes from happening and kill the bill in the first vote, all of us have to give everything we’ve got through Friday at 5 p.m. (after that, no phones will be answered until Monday morning).
To win, the following must add up to 41:
# Senators voting NO
# Senators voting PRESENT
# Senators who do not show up to vote
# Senate seats that are vacant (presently one seat in Wyoming)
In other words, if you can persuade a Senator to leave town to attend a fundraiser or go visit a sick relative in order to avoid having to take sides, that is the same as persuading the Senator to vote NO on amnesty. For example, Sen. Brownback (R-Kan.) is a long-time amnesty champion who is being hammered on the presidential campaign trail. He managed to miss the cloture vote two weeks ago. The effect was the same as his voting NO.
A lot of your Senators who voted NO on cloture two weeks ago are preparing to vote YES on this first cloture because the pro-amnesty leaders have bought their vote in exchange for them getting one of their favorite amendments on the floor for a vote.
Other than our anti-amnesty champions Senators Byrd (D-W.Va.), Dorgan (D-N.D.), Sessions (R-Ala.), Vitter (R-La.), DeMint (R-S.C.), and the Oklahoma Republicans Inhofe and Coburn, you should not count on anybody being guaranteed to vote NO on this first cloture.
Step 2: DEBATE AND VOTES ON NEW AMENDMENTS
If we lose the first cloture vote, debate will begin on around two dozen amendments, perhaps on Wednesday, more likely on Thursday.
We will continue to describe those amendments to you and tell you our position at the bottom of our Senate Vote Day Page. You can also always reach that page from a link on our Home page.
But we aren’t all that interested in the amendments because even if all the ones we favor were to pass, the bill would still be a disaster for America.
That is the argument you must make to your Senators in urging them to forget the amendments and stop the bill from reaching the floor at all by voting NO on the first cloture.
If some of the good amendments pass, it might cause a Senator who is leaning NO to change to YES. But it might also cause a Senator on the other side to decide the bill is no longer open borders enough and end up voting NO. Overall, though, the amendments process is a dangerous one for us.
Do not allow any Senate staffer to get by with saying “the Senator will vote NO on the bill.” We need a pledge to vote NO on “the first cloture vote that would START debate.”
Step 3: THE STOP-DEBATE CLOTURE
The most likely scenario at this moment is that sometime next Friday or Saturday the amendment process will be brought to a halt by Sen. Reid.
He will try to stop debate and force a final vote on the bill. He will have to get 60 YES votes to do so.
We have an even better chance on this cloture than the first one.
Step 4: FINAL VOTE
If we lose both the cloture votes — and also any possible point of order votes that also could stop the bill — the amnesty bill will come up for a final vote.
While the other side has to get 60 votes to win on cloture, it only has to get 50 votes to win on final vote.
I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I feel fairly certain that if we get to the final vote, we will lose.
That is why you must talk cloture, cloture, cloture with your Senators.
That is also why what sounds like really great sounding news this afternoon from Senate Republican Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) may not mean much.
As you may know, McConnell and Sen. Lott (R-Miss.) are the ones who revived the amnesty bill last week by twisting enough Republican NO arms to believe they were close to having enough votes to pass the first cloture.
They are doing this for the Republican White House, as well as for the huge corporate donors to the Republican Party.
But McConnell is up for re-election next year. And Kentucky voters have been hammering his offices about his pro-amnesty work.
Today, he indicated to reporters that he is not at all sure he will be able to vote for the final bill unless a lot of things are changed. One of our lobbyists says it looks like a strategy for him to vote NO on the final vote to tell Kentucky voters he was with THEM, but he may very well vote YES on all the cloture votes to help the bill keep moving for Pres. Bush and the corporate lobbies. The point is that the only NO vote that actually is likely to help us defeat amnesty is on the cloture votes.
So, whether you are in Kentucky or anywhere else, let Senate staffers know that you will not be deceived by that kind of behavior.