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Monday, June 24, 2013
Republicans want more immigration debate
Their complaint: The Senate has only held nine roll call votes on amendments for the bill. | AP Photo
By SEUNG MIN KIM
The world’s greatest deliberative body wants to continue deliberating.
At least that’s the message from 14 Senate Republicans, who fired off a letter on Monday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asking for more time to debate and offer changes to the Gang of Eight immigration bill.
Their complaint: The Senate has only held nine roll call votes on amendments since it began working on the landmark immigration bill earlier this month. By comparison, the 2007 immigration legislation had roll call votes on 46 amendments. Republicans are now asking for votes on at least that many.
And the Senate Republicans believe that after the chamber votes on an amendment from Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota later Monday, the amendment process for the immigration bill could be shut down altogether.
Indeed, Reid moved to cut off debate on the underlying legislation Monday, setting up another procedural vote for Wednesday and making it unlikely that other amendments will be considered to the immigration bill.
“It seems that as soon as a path to passing this bill was identified, an already very slow, halting amendment process was purposely interrupted with histrionics and shut down,” the Republicans wrote to Reid.
The bill’s backers have argued that the Senate’s process of rewriting the country’s immigration laws — starting at the committee level and now on the floor — has been among the most transparent. Reid has long said he wants the immigration bill finished by the July 4 recess, and the Senate appears to be on track to meeting that goal.
One Democratic leadership aide said Monday morning that senators were still trying to reach an agreement on additional amendments. Another Democratic leadership aide called the Republicans “frauds.”
“We have tried for more than two weeks in good faith to reach agreements for more amendment votes and the people on this letter have been the ones blocking us — and blocking their fellow Republicans who are actually working in good faith to improve this bill,” the leadership aide said.
Signers of the letter include Republican Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Dan Coats of Indiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, John Boozman of Arkansas, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, John Cornyn of Texas, John Thune of South Dakota, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Deb Fischer of Nebraska.
Cornyn, who has publicly criticized the Corker-Hoeven proposal and spent days pushing his border-security alternative, officially announced Monday that he would vote against the amendment.
“I cannot support an amendment cobbled together at the 11th hour that doubles the border patrol without knowing how much it will cost or whether it is even the right strategy,” Cornyn, the second-ranking Senate Republican, said in a statement.