Does George Bush Really Want the Immigration Reform Bill to Pass?
Certain Senate Republicans seem to be annoyed when Senate Democrats want to offer amendments to the immigration reform bill:
Senators had been debating a contentious immigration overhaul for hours when Obama – the Illinois Democrat running for president – introduced an amendment that would end a key provision after five years rather than 14. His target was a proposed point system that would make it easier for would-be immigrants to obtain visas based on their education levels or work skills rather than on having close relatives already living in the United States. “We can’t weaken the essence of what America is by turning our backs on immigrants who want to reunite with their family members,” Obama said in his speech. The amendment infuriated Graham, a South Carolina Republican with close ties to another presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Pacing the Senate floor and waving Obama’s amendment, Graham loudly accused Obama of undermining a delicate agreement whose advocates have shown political courage.
But when Harry Reid decided to move this bill towards a Senate vote, Mitch McConnell stuck a knife in the back of the majority leader as reported here:
A broad immigration bill to legalize millions of people unlawfully in the United States failed a crucial test vote in the Senate Thursday, a stunning setback that could spell its defeat for the year. The vote was 45-50 against limiting debate on the bill, 15 short of the 60 that the bill’s supporters needed to prevail. Most Republicans voted to block Democrats’ efforts to bring the bill to a final vote … Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nevada, who had made no secret of his distaste for parts of the bill, said he would withdraw it but keep working toward eventual passage. “I, even though disappointed, look forward to passing this bill,” Reid said. But he said he needs help from the White House. “This is the president’s bill,” Reid said. “… We can’t do it alone over here. We need some help.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, urged Reid not to give up on the legislation, but allow debate on amendments to continue in order to resolve the objections of conservative senators. “This is a complicated bill, but the key to passage is not complicated,” McConnell said. McConnell said all that’s needed is a “reasonable number of additional roll-call votes” on amendments.
Let me get this straight. When Senator Obama wants to offer an amendment to this bill – he gets attacked by Lindsey Graham. But when Senator Reid wants to move this bill to a vote, the GOP leadership submarines the effort as they want more debate on new amendments.
Kevin Drum provides a nice summary of the politics in the Senate:
Look at the numbers. This was a bipartisan bill sponsored by Ted Kennedy and John McCain and supported by George Bush. Democrats voted 37-11 in favor of moving forward to a final vote. Republicans voted 38-7 against it. In the end, the Democratic leadership delivered nearly 80% of its votes. Bush couldn’t even get 20% of his party to go along. All I can say is: if it was extremists that killed this bill, then 80% of the Republican Party is made up of extremists.
I truly abhor for Mitch McConnell to the degree that I would never turn my back on here knowing he just loves to stab Democrats in the back. The minority leader is not to be trusted. But Senator McConnell usually goes along with whatever President Bush wants. In his Saturday morning radio address, the President pleaded that this bill should go forward. If he was serious about this please, he would have Senator McConnell work in good faith with Senator Reid.