Comprehensive immigration reform bill advances to debate in U.S. Senate

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The "Gang of Eight" comprehensivie immigration reform bill is finally being debated in the U.S. Senate today. I love the caption Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal Blog gave his post on the subject, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (a reference to W. B. Yeats' poem Second Coming: "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"):

Mitch McConnell signaled early on
that there would be no leadership-backed filibuster against initial
consideration of the bill, in part because quite a few GOP senators who
will likely vote against the final product also want to claim they
support immigration reform generally, and/or hold out hope the bill will
be amended (i.e., gutted) to incorporate their views.

In fact, the "Gang of Eight" comprehensive immigration reform bill passed its first cloture vote tests today: the motion to proceed to a vote on whether to proceed to a floor debate passed 82-15, and the subsequent motion to proceed to a floor debate passed 84-15. (This is the Senate people). Now the real debate begins.

Ed Kilgore has this revelation:

But the dynamics of the debate remain very complicated, particularly on the Republican side. As noted on several occasions here,
Marco Rubio, Tea Party Hero by day, immigration reformer by night, has
been playing a tricky game, sometimes publicly identifying with
conservative demands that legalization of undocumented workers occur
only after “hard triggers” involving wildly ambitious border control
benchmarks are reached, sometimes echoing the traditional premise of
“comprehensive” reform that a path to citizenship be firmly established
that’s not conditional on external factors.

Having repeatedly praised, without fully endorsing, John Cornyn’s
“RESULTS” amendment, which includes “hard” and difficult border
enforcement triggers, to the point where Harry Reid has called it a
“poison pill,” Rubio will apparently offer his own Cornyn Lite
amendment, whose fate will loom large over the entire debate. On the
very brink of Senate action, however, conservatives are drawing
attention to remarks by Rubio on Univision Sunday that seem to call into
question his credibility as a border enforcement zealot, to put it
mildly, as Byron York points out:

In a Spanish-language interview Sunday with the network
Univision, Sen. Marco Rubio
, the leading Republican on the Gang of Eight
comprehensive immigration reform group, made his strongest statement
yet that legalization of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal
immigrants must happen before any new border security or internal
enforcement measures are in place, and will in no way be conditional on
any security requirements
.

“Let’s be clear,” Rubio said. “Nobody is talking about
preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That
means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come
the measures to secure the border
. And then comes the process of
permanent residence.”

In most of his public appeals for the Gang of Eight bill,
Rubio has stressed its enforcement provisions, saying that border
security must come before immigrants are granted legal permanent
resident status. What he has not stressed so much is the fact that the
bill would legalize the 11 million almost immediately, after they have
passed background checks and paid some sort of fine. That would happen
before any new security measures are completed, or even begun.

So to a lot of conservatives, Rubio’s taking one line in talking (in
English) to Republicans, and another altogether in talking (in Spanish)
to Latinos.

I’ve given up trying to predict exactly what will happen on the Senate
floor, though it’s important to remember that passage (still very
likely) doesn’t matter as much as how House Republicans and the GOP
“base” perceive the bill. Perhaps the optimum result for Rubio is to
secure Cornyn’s own vote for his “Cornyn Lite” amendment, without
jeopardizing Democratic support for the bill.

And then there is the House where the Tea Party minority holds the GOP leadership hostage:

But it’s important to remember that House Republicans just don’t
generally share the sense of urgency about immigration reform that
“Establishment Republicans” and their Senate friends so often express.
WaPo’s Aaaron Blake notes
the significance of the House vote last week seeking to defund the
president’s initiative curtailing enforcement of immigration laws
against those who would have benefitted from the DREAM Act:

The House vote signals that congressional Republicans aren’t
afraid to take votes that may jeopardize their standing with Latinos.
Indeed, the vote last week was essentially a symbolic measure with no
chance of passage in the Senate, but it still got the support of 221 out
of 227 Republicans who voted. If they’re voting for that, why wouldn’t
they also vote against a path to citizenship?

So if Rubio (with the support of nearly all Senate Democrats) pulls
off his multiple maneuvers and the Senate approves a modified Gang of
Eight Bill with well over 60 votes, take the ensuing cheers of triumph
with a shaker of salt. This legislation is at best slouching towards
Bethlehem to be born, but it is indeed one rough beast.

The TanMan, Weeper of the House John Boehner is reported to have said today that The Immigration Bill Can Be Signed ‘By The End Of The Year’:

Boehner said in a nationally broadcast interview he still has
concerns about aspects of the bill pertaining to border security. But
the Ohio Republican also said he has sought to create an environment in
the House where both parties can work together on the measure, which
could eventually lead to full citizenship for millions of people
currently living in the United States illegally.

“I think, no question, by the end of the year we could have a bill.
No question,” the speaker said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning
America.”

The Senate is trying to complete its work on this bill before the July 4th break. Boehner has previously indicated that he would like to see a bill through his chamber before the August recess. That strikes me as an overly optimistic schedule for the "Worst. Speaker. Ever." I suspect the House will still be working on this bill after Labor Day when it returns from the August recess.

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