Thursday, June 14, 2007

Keeping the Wrangling Behind Closed Doors: Malkin has a good roundup of some back-room dealings for immigration bill and includes a very intriguing letter from Steve Elliot of the (anti-coalition)

President Bush and the Amnesty Republicans are attempting to convince about a dozen Republicans to support "cloture" on Bush-Kennedy in exchange for a commitment that a set list of amendments will be considered -- thus, "amendments for amnesty."

Also, Bush and the amnesty leaders are strong-arming conservatives into accepting the "amendments for amnesty" deal or face being banished into Senate oblivion.

Amnesty Republicans have already submitted their list of amendments to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Once the "amendments for amnesty" deal is finalized between Reid and the Republicans, the bill will be quickly brought back to the floor. The amendments will be defeated and amnesty passed...

...this is the FOURTH TIME our leaders have gone behind closed doors to work out some secret scheme to get this bill passed. Despite unprecedented and overwhelming grassroots opposition, they think they can still pull off their legislative, slight-of-hand trickery!

Malkin also links to this report of John Hawkins about his conversation with a GOP Senate aide. Snippet:

First off, it does look like the Senate immigration bill is coming back. The conventional wisdom seems to be that it's going to be brought up right before the July 4th break, so that the Senate Republican leadership can try to use that as leverage to get votes (In other words, "vote for the bill or we'll have to waste your vacation time until you do").

This is despite the fact that the conservative leaders of the anti-amnesty movement are refusing to cooperate, and won't give Mitch McConnell a list of amendments that they want considered. My source tells me that the reason for this is that the game has now been rigged. McConnell is essentially promising to bring the amendments up in exchange for cloture votes, but Trent Lott is publicly saying that they will strip any problematic amendments out in committee.

In other words, if the bill gets through the Senate and the House, the Democrats and the open borders Republicans will work together when the bills have to be reconciled in committee to strip out any amendments that the "grand bargainers" don't like. Therefore, at this point, it doesn't matter what amendments pass, because any tough enforcement provisions that slip through will be rendered toothless when the bills are reconciled.

My source also noted that the cloture vote to end debate will be the "real" vote on the bill because if debate is closed off, the bill is sure to pass. Then, what will happen is that the votes for the bill will be counted, and a few senators who are afraid that their election prospects will be jeopardized by a "yes" vote, will be allowed to vote against the bill. This enables those senators to tell their constituents that they voted against the bill, but it will still allow them to collect campaign contributions from lobbyists who have a better understanding of how things work, and know that the bill couldn't have been passed without their support. Put another way, they get to reap the rewards of supporting amnesty while telling the voters in their home states that they opposed the bill.

My source also let me know that the White House and the Senate leadership, and Trent Lott in particular, are pushing very hard for this bill.

Hawkins's Senate aide currently gives the bill a 50-50 chance of passing (though he also says that proponents of the bill currently have the momentum)...