Monday, June 18, 2007

Ensign: Z-Visas are Staying In, Bill May Be Improved: John Hawkins has an interesting interview with Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), current National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman. Toward the end of the interview, Ensign answers a question about removing the "probationary Z-visas" from the current Senate bill with:
We can't get enough votes [to remove that measure]. That's the bottom line. If we could do that, I would go with you on that. But, you don't have enough votes in the U.S. Senate to do that.
Will Ensign ultimately support the bill? That's where this interview gets tricky. For example, Ensign says:
Well, first of all, I want to see the final version. I don't think people should judge the final version. I'm against the bill as it currently stands. But, if we can make some changes to the bill, I do believe it will be a much better bill than current law is...and it will help actually clean up some things.
But does he think that the bill will be that much improved through the present amendment process?
I am not in any way, shape, or form confident that the bill is going to be fixed. As a matter of fact, I'm very doubtful. I'm saying that if we can fix it, and I'm saying I would like to fix it, I would actually like to try to solve the problem, it's just that the current bill misses the mark and it misses the mark badly.
Is Ensign positioning himself for a Kyl-like (though Kyl's not the only one saying this) "I'm not completely happy with the present bill, but it's better than things as they now stand so I'll vote for it" or is he merely saying that he's open-minded about the bill's improvement but skeptical?
Another interesting exchange:

John Hawkins: Well, John, let's say that's passed. Trent Lott has already said that they're going to take that sort of thing [requiring more extensive rules for the background check for the Z-visa] out in committee. He's already publicly said...

John Ensign: Well, we've got some good leverage on that as far as conference. We can make sure that those things are what are called, pre-conference. They have to agree to them before we ever allow them to go to the conference. We can filibuster them going to conference. So, we do have some leverage there. We haven't given everything up by letting that happen. That's a very strong...parliamentary trick that we have

But how strong is it? For skeptics of this bill, is it worth letting this bill be passed (giving in on cloture)--even while the leadership talks about removing "improvements" in the bill--in the hopes that they'll be able to maintain a filibuster to keep these "improving" provisions in during conference?