Today, five GOP senators appealed to Harry Reid not to use a cherry-picking amendment trick and cut off debate on the Bush-Kennedy shamnesty bill. Here’s their letter:
Wanna know what Reid’s response was? Stay tuned. This entire process has stunk to high heaven from the get-go. No matter what happens on the Senate floor tomorrow on the cloture vote on the motion to proceed, do not forget this fact. Do not forget that the Grand Schemers in the White House and in both parties in the Senate have collaborated with Ted Kennedy and the open borders to ram this fundamentally flawed package down our throats–and subvert the deliberative process.
Whatever happens tomorrow morning, there remains a critical time period between tomorrow and Thursday, when the cloture vote on the overall shamnesty takes place. This fight began a long time ago. It doesn’t end tomorrow. My Hill sources say Senate wafflers are feeling the heat. They need to feel it all week long.
Update: Reid’s response is posted up on his website. You’re not going to like what it says:
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senators Cornyn, Vitter, Dole, Sessions and DeMint:
Thank you for writing to me earlier today about my efforts to bring the comprehensive immigration reform bill back to the Senate floor.
As you know, the Senate was unable to complete action on the immigration bill earlier this month because a handful of Senators, including several of you, objected to my repeated efforts to call up further amendments to the bill. Following the unsuccessful cloture vote on June 7, a group of Senators including Minority Leader McConnell, Republican Conference Chairman Kyl and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Specter, came to see me with a request that I bring the immigration bill back before the Senate under a procedure under which a large number of additional amendments could become pending to the bill.
The so-called “clay pigeon” procedure is unusual, and I would not have considered employing it in this instance without the full support of Senator McConnell. It seems to me appropriate for the two leaders to work together to overcome the tactics of a small number of Senators in order to allow the full Senate to debate an important national issue like immigration. The White House made clear that it also favors such a procedure, since the immigration bill is one of President Bush’s top priorities.
I respectfully disagree with your assertion that I intend to “shut off the debate” and that the procedure in question will “silence amendments instead of facilitate their debate.” On the contrary, I am working to facilitate debate on more than twenty additional amendments to the bill. In contrast, several of you objected when I tried to call up as few as five amendments during the earlier debate. The American people can see clearly who wants to debate immigration reform and who wants to shut off that debate.
Moreover, your claim that the Senate will only debate amendments which I “hand select” is plainly untrue. The dozen or so Republican amendments that will become pending to the bill have been selected by the Republican leadership, not by me.
In sum, I appreciate the concerns expressed in your letter but consider them misplaced. Senator McConnell and I have worked together in good faith to ensure a full, open and productive debate on a bill of overriding national importance that is supported by many Republicans and endorsed by President Bush.
Jim Geraghty notes:
This is a very big deal, because it means that several senators on the fence, who had felt that their amendments were the make-or-break factor in the bill, won’t know whether their amendments are in the ones approved by McConnell.
It’s either vote no, and never know whether your amendment to fix the bill would have made it through, or vote yes, and hope that yours is one of the dozen or so.
It’s also a very big deal because Reid’s letter points to the White House and GOP Grand Schemers–specifically, Minority Leader McConnell, Republican Conference Chairman Kyl and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Specter–as the collaborators responsible for the “clay pigeon” ruse to steamroll right over their own GOP colleagues.
Such are the wages of “bipartisanship.”
Up-to-date round-up at HA.
Noam Askew has more.
NR urges: Kill the Bill–again.
And Mickey Kaus keeps watch.
Update: NR names its list of “seven who could stop amnesty.”
They are Sens. Kit Bond, Sam Brownback, Richard Burr, Thad Cochran, Norm Coleman, John Ensign, and Jim Webb. If any of these senators votes to revive the bill, his professions of opposition to amnesty should no longer be taken seriously. He will have done his crucial bit, when the amnesty bill was most vulnerable, to help shepherd it to passage. We know how senators who claim to oppose amnesty will try to explain away a vote to revive the bill. They will rely on procedural obfuscation: They didn’t want to obstruct the process, they wanted to get a vote on an amendment, etc. But amnesty is staying in the bill — no amendment to strike the bill’s central features has any chance of passage — and it deserves to be obstructed.
Actually, there’s one person who could stop amnesty all by himself: the man sitting in the White House.
But he won’t. He’s given shamnesty the thumbs-up and it’s going to take everything in the grass-roots conservative movement’s power to try and stop it.
Footnote to the list: On the other side of the aisle, I heard some rumblings of doubt tonight about McCaskill, Tester, Pryor, and Bingaman–all of whom anti-amnesty activists had believed would side against Bush-Kennedy-Reid. We’ll see soon enough.