Don't look to me for inside baseball on the Senate immigration vote, but I did notice that Ted Kennedy's Red Bull-Filled Room Gang room finally suffered a defeat early Thursday morning on an amendment they cared about deeply:
Immigration bill inches forward
Senate amendment could jeopardize deal
By Karoun Demirjian Washington Bureau Published June 7, 2007
WASHINGTON — The Senate's approval of an amendment to review and possibly terminate a central feature of the fragile immigration bill in the wee hours of Thursday morning may have critically jeopardized the measure as it enters final days of consideration.
The third time proved to be the charm for Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who introduced a twice-revamped proposal to mandate a five-year review and potential termination of the temporary guest worker program that would allow immigrants to obtain special "Y-1" visas to work in the U.S. for three separate two-year intervals. Though earlier versions of the amendment had failed, the Senate voted 49-48 to keep it in after several senators changed their positions from previous votes on the issue.
The temporary guest worker program is a controversial but key feature of the compromise legislation for many of the bill's supporters, including President Bush.
Supporters of the bill claimed victory not only over the temporary worker program, but over the bill's entire process.
"No one has the right to meet in secret with special-interest groups and write a bill and ram it down the throats of the United States Senate," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a critic of the bill who voted to kill the guest worker program. "I hope today people begin to see that a small group of senators … don't have the power to say we can't have an amendment and we can't change it."
Throughout Wednesday night, the Senate appeared to be moving closer to approval of the measure, as other deal-breaking amendments were rejected one by one. After several close votes, few significant changes had been approved.
But there were signs that the coalition's unanimity was weakening as votes continued early Thursday morning. Democrats who joined the compromise legislation supported their party colleagues on a series of votes on family reunification amendments, while Georgia Republicans Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss joined their conservative colleagues on controversial proposals that would make it tougher for illegal immigrants to stay in the
But the core bipartisan coalition of 10 senators who drafted the compromise hung together as a body to oppose the Dorgan amendment, and through many other difficult votes, knowing that if some of the amendments offered by the bill's most vocal critics were approved, that could spell defeat for the overall measure.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ratcheted up the pressure for passage by announcing the Senate would vote Thursday on a motion to limit debate to 30 additional hours.
Reid presented the move as a challenge to senators, especially Republicans, who he said were trying to delay and debate the bill to death. Republicans cried foul, complaining that they had not had sufficient time to offer amendments.
"I am counting progress on this bill not by calendar days … but by the ability of senators to debate and to vote on their respective ideas," said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The Senate did approve amendments Wednesday to prevent immigrants from claiming earned income tax credits until they have obtained green cards ...
Well, that's reassuring ...
and to permit law-enforcement agencies to access the application materials of immigrants who are denied Z visa status, which would put the 12 million illegal immigrants in the
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) criticized the Z visa amendment by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), calling it a "report to deport" provision that might lead many immigrants to opt out of the new program. Kennedy is expected to take steps to counteract the measure as debate continues.
I bet he will!