9:30pm Eastern update. The venerable economist George Borjas weighs in on his blog with a sober and sobering assessment:
The President bet all his remaining political capital on a proposal he knew would tear his party apart. And the Senate came close to enacting very bad policy. It really makes me wonder: what the heck were they thinking?
There’s something else worth pointing out. Here’s a policy shift–amnesty and guest workers–that the entire political establishment as well as much of the mainstream media and academic elite wanted badly. It is seldom the case that something that the powers-that-be want so much fails to make it through. I am pretty sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere. And the tactics used by the bill’s opponents to fight the establishment’s power and to weaken their control over key junctures in the information flow will provide lots of case studies that will be studied far into the future. No “Mission Accomplished” banners this time around.
Does this end the debate over immigration? No.
Why? Because our immigration system is truly broken.
Regardless of what happened at the Senate today, there are still 12 million illegal immigrants living in the country, and that number is increasing at the rate of about half-a-million a year. And there’s no longer any need for the Bush administration to keep playing the charade of “more enforcement” that received wide media attention in the past few months. The economic and social dislocations caused by illegal immigration are not going to disappear simply because the issue is no longer in the political headlights.
Combine this with a legal immigration system that admits about 1 million immigrants a year–most of which tend to be low-skill workers. The economic pressures that both legal and illegal immigrants put on the low-skill labor market are severe, and have been ignored for years. I suspect that the immigration “problem” would have been long resolved had the labor markets for high-skill workers–say, for example, journalists and attorneys–faced the same pressures as those faced by low-educated workers.
Now that the debate is over, perhaps we can return some sanity and honesty into the intellectual discussion of what immigration does to the United States…
4:30pm Eastern update. Check out our new Hot Air political ad: Meet Senator Switchback.
2:59pm Eastern update. Caught on tape. Allah captured Sen. Sam Switchback’s dirty deed. Gotcha:
1:46pm Eastern update. What does President Bush have to say about shamnesty going down in flames? This:
Connelly Hall, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, White House News 12:38 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I thank the members of the Senate and members of my administration who worked so hard on the border security and immigration reform bill. I’m sorry the Senate was unable to reach agreement on the bill this morning.
Legal (sic?) immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people and Congress’s failure to act on it is a disappointment. The American people understand the status quo is unacceptable when it comes to our immigration laws. A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find a common ground — it didn’t work.
12:40pm Eastern update. Vote-switching weasel Sam Brownback should really just end his presidential campaign bid right now and stop wasting his poor staff’s time.
Reader Dave e-mails: “I think an enduring legacy of the vote will be a new nickname for the Senator from Kansas: Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Senator Sam Switch-back.”
12:34pm Eastern update. Now what? Sen. Jim DeMint has it right:
“When the U.S. Senate brought the Amnesty bill back up this week, they declared war on the American people. This act created a crisis of confidence in their government. Thankfully, the American people won today,” said Senator DeMint. “This is remarkable because it shows that Americans are engaged and they care deeply about their country. They care enough for their country to get mad and to fight for it, and that’s the most important thing of all. Americans made phone calls and sent letters, and convinced the Senate to stop this bill.”
“The Senate rejected this bill and the heavy-handed tactics used to ram it through. Americans do not want more of the same – amnesty and broken promises on the border. Americans want legislation to be written in public – not in secret – and they want Congress to engage in an open and fair debate.”
“There is a better way forward without this bill. The President has said that the border security measures can be implemented over the next 18 months, and they can be done under current law. Now the Administration needs to prove it and stop holding border security hostage for amnesty.”
“Once we have secured the border and restored trust with the American people, we can begin to take additional steps.”
Over to you, President Bush.
In order to pass the Bush-Kennedy amnesty, el Presidente tacked on a $4.4. “emergency supplemental” funding request to the bill. The president should still ask Congress for that “emergency” money to help solve the crisis on our borders.
11:57am Eastern update. Roll added:
The yes/no switchers were Bingaman, Bond, Brown, Brownback, Burr, Coleman, Collins, Domenici, Ensign, Harkin, McConnell, Murkowski, Ben Nelson, Pryor, Stevens, Voinovich(!), Warner, and Webb…I guess you can thank Sean Hannity for shaming Voinovich into flipping.
It’s worth going back and looking at the order in which they voted, to see who held back and waited to gauge how the vote was going before casting his/her ballot. I’ll bet Mitch McConnell was one of them.
11:55am Eastern update. “A stake through the heart.”
11:30am Eastern update. VICTORY. 53 No’s. Shamnesty is dead. A stake through the heart.
And yes, so was my website for about 10-20 minutes.
Thanks to the stalwart, true leaders in the Senate — especially Sens. Sessions, DeMint, Vitter, Inhofe, Cornyn, and their staffs. Thanks to the House GOP members who made their opposition known. Thanks to the Loud Folks on the right side of the dial. Thanks to the Loud Folks at The Corner, RedState, Human Events, Townhall, Kaus, N.Z. Bear, my colleagues at Hot Air, and all the enforcement-first bloggers out there who weighed in. Thanks to the analysts at the Heritage Foundation, the enforcement/assimilation proponents at The Manhattan Institute, George Borjas, Kris Kobach, Eagle Forum, 9/11 Families, FAIR and Numbers USA. Thanks to the immigration enforcement activists who’ve been at this for years and decades before this one battle began. Most importantly, thanks to all the ordinary “Loud Folks” who called, phoned, e-mailed, and blogged their opposition.
The bill is dead. The work of immigration enforcement and border security continues.
Rolling updates on Senate floor activity
11:04am Eastern update. Finally. The vote begins.
Notable votes so far:
YEA: Brownback (Update: Apparently changed his vote at the last minute.)
NAY: Bond, Domenici, Ensign, Webb
10:59am Eastern update. Sessions interrupts Reid’s drone. What about the time limit? Obama is giving Reid overtime. Now, Reid is using his “leader’s time.” Reid chastises Sessions for rudely interrupting him.
Readers: This is your Grand Bargain. I hope as many of you are watching this as possible. It’s really revolting. Reid continues to drone. I remind you again: The opponents were allocated 10 total minutes to make their case. Harry Reid has exceeded the rest of the hour they said they would take.
10:48am Eastern. Well, here we go. It’s sniveling Harry Reid: “Is immigration a problem? Of course it is. But is immigration a problem limited…to border states, big cities? No. Immigration is a problem all over America.”
Another Sherlock Holmes!
The Corner is buzzing that Reid will be able to strong-arm some of the anti-amnesty Dems.
Now, he’s mentioning a hate mail. As I’ve been noting all morning, this is the Big Theme of the shamnesty side. This is all they have. “Talk radio has had a field day. These generators of simplicity.” After playing the hate card, he disingenuously asserts that he is not suggesting that senators who oppose shamnesty are prejudiced. Reid tells his melting pot story for the 999th time. And he keeps muttering about a watch.
Now: “Mr. President, my skin is real white.” He points out that Obama is black. He points to a Hispanic. “But my skin is American skin.” This is what the precious time on the Senate floor is being used for–emotional bleating that ignores the actual bill on the table.
What an incredibly less-than-mediocre speaker Reid is. And he keeps going on. It’s way past time for the scheduled vote.
10:43am Eastern update. While Specter drones, here’s the video of Teddy Kennedy’s Gestapo diatribe.
Specter: “A vote against cloture is a vote to kill the bill.”
He’s a veritable Sherlock Holmes!
10:37am Eastern update. So we have two basic themes from the pro-amnesty and anti-amnesty sides this morning. The shamnesty senators are playing the fear/bigotry/can’t-do-nothing card. The enforcement senators are repeating the point that the American people have lost faith, confidence, and trust in the government to do its job. Arlen Specter is now trying to argue that the “silent majority” supports his side and that the noisy callers and e-mailers who oppose amnesty do not represent the vast American majority who have consistently supported immigration enforcement first.
10:32am Eastern update. Mel Martinez. Groan. He plays the “can’t do nothing” card. How many seconds before he plays the fear/bigotry card? Waiting. Oops, he ran out of time. Specter jumped in and gave him an extra three minutes because he’s an immigrant. Martinez obliges and echoes the other pro-amnesty senators who have repeated the line about “ugly” opposition.
10:30am Eastern update. Ted Kennedy is yelling at the top of his lungs again, doing his Jesse Jackson impersonation. Invokes civil rights legislation. “We were part of the march for progress. And today we are called again…who among us would retreat on any of those great traditions? Now is the time to secure our borders…Now is the time! This is the place! Are we going to vote for our hopes? Or are we going to vote for our fears?”
In case you didn’t catch this, the opponents of shamnesty are rushing through their statements because the Grand Schemers have only given them 10 minutes to speak. The shamnesty senators will get the rest of the hour to talk. “Typical,” says Session, of the way this debate has gone. And so starkly absurd. You’ve got the pro-amnesty senators on the floor now all bleating about how debate shouldn’t be ended…having just limited their opponents’ time to a measly 10 minutes.
10:24am Eastern update. Vitter spoke briefly about arrogance of the out-of-touch Senate. DeMint notes again that the phone system has crushed. Session– I wish our side had gotten more than 10 minutes. Durbin is now up attacking “dark” and “ugly” voices against amnesty.
10:20am Eastern update. Jeff Sessions gives a reality check to the shamnesty claim that illegal immigration will be reduced by referring to CBO analysis. Sessions reports that the Senate telephone system has shut down and crashed because of overwhelming public feedback.
10:16am Eastern update. Salazar’s up. This is the shamnesty talking point of the morning: People are afraid. People are filled with hate. Now, he’s invoking Cesar Chavez! He is obviously clueless about Cesar Chavez’s position on illegal immigration.
10:10am Eastern update. Mr. Melodrama, Lindsey Graham is up. “I don’t claim to be on the right or the wrong side of the American people.” No need to claim. It’s clear as day. I need a Dramamine, he’s moving around so much. I feel bad for the C-SPAN cameraman. “This is as good as it’s gonna get.” Mercifully, he has run out of time.
Meantime, a reader e-mails:
Just got off the phone with Gregg’s office. He’s still NOT committed one way or the other. All offices are open for business.
Another reader e-mails:
I’m a member of the Republican State Committee of Maine. Susan Collins was blasted on local talk radio today by Republicans who said they will not support her re-election next year if she votes for the Immigration bill. There are rumors going around that she has doubts about the bill. If you could post her phone number, it might help swing her to our side. Thanks. Susan Collins Maine office – 207-780-3575.
10:09 Eastern update. DeMint — “This immigration bill has become a war between the American people and their government. It’s a crisis of confidence…This vote today is really not about immigration. It’s about whether we are going to listen to the American people…the allocation of time as we approach this vote is very symbolic. the supporters of this bill out of an hour’s time have allocated 10 minutes to the views of the American people.” Urges vote against cloture.
10:06am Eastern update. Corker: “I have voted three times against cloture, and will vote a fourth time against it…A lot of different things at play–compassion, cheap labor, party politics…America has lost faith in our government’s ability to do the things it says it’s gonna do…People feel they are losing their government. Not to people who speak or look differently. They are losing it to a government not doing the things it says it will do.”
10:02am Eastern update. Dole invokes Grassley’s admission that 1986 amnesty was a debacle. My strong view is that it’s not just promises, it’s proof (of border security and enforcement) that people want.” Dole notes that she has met with sheriffs to help enforce 287(g) to deputize local law enforcement to help enforce immigration law.
9:57am Eastern update. Kyl pimps shamnesty. “I hope that my colleagues will accept that doing nothing is not acceptable.” No. Passing shamnesty would be much worse.
9:49am Eastern update. Teddy Kennedy did his best Geraldo impression, likening immigration enforcement to Gestapo tactics. Video coming. Arlen Specter is lavishing praise on the maaaverick, courageous John McCain, pleading to the Senate not to kill the bill.
Dianne Feinstein: “There is no more important bill than this one.” She invokes the NYTimes line about the “threats” being made to pro-shamnesty. She parrots the line that we are stupid, that “people don’t understand this bill…they don’t understand the threat to national security.” Oh, we understand the threat this bill poses to national security just fine. She plugs the Graham amendment. “Puh-leeeease vote for cloture.”
BTW: NR reports that Ensign is a definite no and informed the the White House and McConnell last night.
The second cloture vote, as you know, is scheduled for 10:30am. I’ll be here doing my thang. As I reported last night, there are dire forecasts for shamnesty from every corner of the blogosphere–and MSM: Illegals bill loses support in Senate. Senate Immigration Reform Bill Takes Step Toward the Grave. New Senators Resist Overhaul of Immigration. Immigration Measure Appears Imperiled Again. Shamnesty in deep, deep doo-doo.
Ok, I made that last one up. Dire forecasts never sounded so good. But nothing is in the bag. As readers e-mailed yesterday and the WashTimes reports today, Sens. Burr and Nelson look like solid no’s. Repeat: Nothing is in the bag. Here are some quick phone numbers:
Christopher Bond (R-MO) (202) 224-5721
Sam Brownback (R-KS) (202) 224-6521
Richard Burr (R-NC) (202) 224-3154
Larry Craig (R-ID) (202) 224-2752
John Ensign (R-NV) (202) 224-6244
Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (202) 224-2541
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (202) 224-6665
Of note: A source tells John Hawkins that Linsdey Graham-nesty is “running scared.” Keep running.
While we wait for the Senate to start its business, here’s a little entertainment from James Kole, who penned “The Amnesty Bill Blues” (hat tip: Freedom Folks):
More entertainment: Be sure to check out the update to the story about Tom Tancredo’s special delivery to DHS head Michael Chertoff. Priceless.
And a great one-liner from Lucianne in response to a NYTimes sob story about shamnesty senators trembling at negative mail from constituents: “How are they supposed to fight an enemy that beheads people if the mail turns them to jelly?”