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On Tuesday afternoon, Harry Reid plans to bring the amnesty/immigration deform bill (S.744) to the floor for the first procedural vote – cloture on motion to proceed with debate. Harry Reid can probably count on all 54 Democrats voting for cloture, with the possible exception of Mark Pryor (AR). In a sane world, Senate Republicans would all vote against the motion (even assuming we lose the 4 GOP gang members plus Susan Collins and Kelly Ayotte), and this national nightmare would be over. They would recognize that the bill is beyond fatally flawed and cannot (or will not) be salvaged by proceeding to debate with the amendment process. They would demand that Obama implement the current laws on the books before discussing any amnesty and repeating the mistakes of 1986.
Unfortunately, the GOP leadership in the Senate is also fatally flawed. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn have announced their plans to vote for cloture, all but ensuring that at least 15 more Republicans join them in sealing the fate of this bill. Obviously, it is still important for Republicans to pressure their members into voting no. The lower the number of no votes is on the first vote, the more momentum it will give to the proponents of amnesty.
Most of the first week will be consumed by opening statements and speeches from individual members. However, towards the end of the week, we will begin to take up amendments:
As such, it is not hard to see how Schumer and Rubio could work out a deal using Cornyn’s amendment as a baseline. Even though Democrats are currently inveighing against Cornyn’s amendment, they are engaging in typical hardline negotiation tactics (something Republicans will never do). If they get the feeling that half the GOP conference would go along with such a fake enforcement strategy, they will negotiate the amendment down and agree to a grand compromise, which keeps the basic structure of the bill intact.
Ironically, the excuse for offering this amendment is that the status quo is unacceptable because Obama won’t enforce the laws. Yet, somehow, we are supposed to believe that he will enforce new laws, especially if those laws are not barriers to the initial and most important amnesty.
Obviously, Schumer and the Democrats understand that this bill cannot pass the House. They also desire for Republicans to share in the blame of passing another failed amnesty. That’s why they are aiming for a super-majority of 70-75 votes. By passing some sort of a phony enforcement amendment to give cover for weak Republicans, Schumer hopes to obtain a super-majority, thereby placing tremendous pressure on the House.
Sadly, it is very difficult to foresee a scenario in which a bill fails to pass the Senate before the July 4th weekend. No matter how successfully we expose the duplicity and danger involved in this legislation, there are at least 60 members who couldn’t care less. However, it is still important that we keep the numbers down, as evidenced by Schumer’s desire for a super-majority. Conservatives must stifle the temptation to focus their attention solely on the scandals, and make a concerted effort to pressure the GOP members against this travesty. Here are some key members to call:
Barrasso, Cochran, Wicker, Heller, Hoeven, Johanns, Johnson, Moran, Roberts, Paul, Blunt, Fisher, Toomey, Portman, Collins, Hatch, Corker Crapo
The unifying theme among conservatives – whether you believe in no amnesty or amnesty at the right time – must be ‘enforcement first.’ Marco Rubio has already admitted that any final deal will be predicated on legalization first. Hence, there is nothing more to debate. This behemoth must be defeated.
This piece is excerpted from my weekly legislative bulletin and analysis, The Madisonian, for The Madison Project. To receive an electronic copy every Monday, please click here.