Saturday, June 9, 2007

In Texas, fear that non-citizens had voted in elections. Also in this story:

A bill to require voters to show photo identification or two other forms of ID before casting ballots died in the state Senate without a vote.

Democrats claimed the identification requirements would suppress poor and minority voters and vowed to filibuster the bill — and threaten other bills — if it ever came up.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and other Republicans argued the measure is needed to combat voter fraud. It had already passed the House.

Legislation is pending in Oregon to require proof of residence in order to get a driver's license. Apparently, according to this story, the fate of this measure is in some question. Currently, Oregon seems to require no proof of legal residence or citizenship in order to get a license. See Oregon HB 2270 and SB 424. This controversy also involves the federal Real ID Act and how Oregon state law can (or cannot/should not) be integrated with those federal demands; see this story about some of the progress of the measure in question. A substitute for SB424 was eventually, it seems, adopted and referred to the Oregon state Ways and Means Committee.
Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss (R) and Johnny Isakson (R) are engaged in a careful threading of the needle for their public approach to the Senate immigration bill, according to this news story. While both say the bill has gotten stronger through amendments, they also say that it wasn't "good enough for Georgia"--yet. Though both voted against cloture--and in the face of a public outcry against the bill--they also, at least according to this story,
have made clear that they don't like all aspects of the bill, which President Bush also supports. But they have insisted that it is far better than allowing the current system to continue and said it is the best compromise available.
In his radio address for the week, President Bush renews his public push for passage of the Senate immigration bill. Again attempts to differentiate the current bill from the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act--says that it will solve the problems of that bill. He continues to claim that it is not "amnesty" and stresses the value of the "guest worker program"--though the Dorgan amendment would end this bill's guest worker program after five years. Urges Majority Leader Reid to bring bill back to Senate floor quickly.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Via the Politico, reports of more maneuvers to bring immigration bill back to Senate floor and pass it: Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) still trying to negotiate on the number of amendments to be allowed on the floor.
Naptime or Snacktime? This CBS story will not allay this Senate aide's fear that the White House will "start plucking votes one-by-one." Key paragraph from CBS story:
Bush's scheduled lunch on Tuesday with GOP senators is part of a campaign by the White House and allies in both parties to placate or outmaneuver conservative Republicans who blocked the broad immigration measure this week. They said Friday they would try again to reach accord on the number of amendments the dissidents could offer.
Of course, "conservative Republicans" were not the only ones who voted against cloture. Or in favor of the Dorgan amendment....
How long will naptime last? In press conference today, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) said he was hopeful that the Senate would renew debate on immigration bill in July.
Meanwhile on the more local level, the Connecticut legislature has passed a bill that would grant in-state tuition to the "children of illegal immigrants" (by this, I suppose they mean children who are themselves in the country without proper documentation; native-born children--whether to "illegal immigrants" or natives--are automatically US citizens). Gov. Jodi Rell (R) has not yet said whether she will sign the bill.
The Morning After: Pundits and reporters are still trying to pick up the pieces after the failure to invoke cloture on the "grand compromise" immigration bill last night. The Politico's Carrie Budoff summarizes the events of the past few days. Mickey Kaus has a roundup of some media reactions/explanations. An "inside source" offers John Hawkins one history of the breakdown of the compromise yesterday. Meanwhile, another Senate aide says that the bill may not be dead yet.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Up Next?: Well, I don't know all the games that are going around, so it's hard to predict. But I would suggest that it might not be quite RIP for the bill yet; it might only be napping--leaders on both sides (Rep. and Dem.) say that they want to keep working on it. And after this bill, there may (will?) be others. No matter what happens to this particular bill, it seems like this issue (and the other issues it raises) will be alive and kicking for some time to come...
UPDATE: Cloture vote roll call list.
Various senators offer remarks. Praise and blame are exchanged on the Senate floor. Senators emphasize that they want to continue to work on this bill.
McConnell takes the stage: Says that he would like to vote on bill eventually--but wanted more representation for Republican amendments. Says he too wants to return to issue and see bill on the floor again. Says there are a "number of Republicans who are prepared to vote for cloture" as long as they see Republican amendments considered. Says that Republicans will continue to deliberate over amendments.
Reid on floor now. Holds out hopes for finding a re-negotiated way of putting forward an amendment package over the next few weeks. Reid emphasizes how he wants to fight to pass this bill. Wants DREAM Act. Again calls on the President to involve himself. Says many Senate Democrats will work to pass this bill as soon as possible.
Cloture Fails: 50 against cloture, 45 for. Republicans and Democrats combined to defeat a cloture motion that would have closed down debate on the present immigration bill. Even some members of the coalition that propelled this bill forward (such as Jon Kyl) voted against cloture.
Waiting on cloture vote...
Fox News is now reporting that the immigration bill is on its "deathbed."
The calm continues. Quorum calls, C-SPAN musical interludes, speeches on stem cells, a few words on the pending proposals. Outside the Senate chamber, activity.
Big-time debate on the Senate floor--a lot of senators talking in a knot. C-Span even offered some narration! Negotiate! Negotiate!
Sen. Reid (D-NV): This is the President's bill. Claims that "this bill isn't going anywhere, but it's not our [Democrats, I presume] fault."

Bargaining on the Senate floor:
Reid: 15 minutes for 3 amendments.
Sessions: 45 minutes for each amendment.
Reid: No way.
Durbin: You've had Dodd's amendment for a while, so you may not need as much time to debate that one.
Quorum Call: Time-out!
Sen. McCaskill (D-MO) proposes amendment that would punish employers of "illegal immigrants" by denying them federal contracts in the future. Speaks in favor of enforcement through punishing employers who hire illegally.
Some moments in Senate debate: Sen. Specter (R-PA) and Sen. Sessions (R-AL) debate on the floor. Sessions says that he would follow the example of Specter's approach to asbestos and spend much longer--months and more--exploring immigration legislation.
Sen. Webb (D-Virginia) offers a new amendment.
It looks like the 3R/3D amendment plan may be modified; it may be 3R/2D. Sen. Reid aims for votes at 3:00pm.
Interesting Politico story on some of the negotiations leading up to Dorgan amendment.
Break from Legislative Maneuvers: NY Appeals Court (highest court in NY state) says that state can deny driver's licenses to "illegal immigrants."
Reid announces that a unanimous consent agreement is in the works: he plans on 3 Republican amendments and 3 Democratic amendments.
Cloture I: Fails 33-63. In a first testing of the cloture grounds, Republicans stood behind Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who demands more time for amendments, and voted against cloture. Democrats were splintered; a number of them voted against cloture. Majority Leader Sen. Reid ultimately votes against cloture. Motion to reconsider filed. Fails 34-61. Another motion to reconsider.
If Obama and Graham were "trading barbs," then Sen. Judd Gregg and Rep. Tom Tancredo were trading double time! Gregg to Tancredo: you're one of those "who are using a jingoistic and demagogic approach of opposition to immigrants as a way to raise their own political visibility."
Coburn Amendment fails.

Reid continues to emphasize marathon metaphor.
Vote Hunt: There could be a lot of vote-hunting going on now. This AP story suggests that the coalition might be hunting for a few more votes to overturn the Dorgan amendment. Meanwhile, Malkin (who's liveblogging the Senate debate) suggests that it's a hunt for 41 votes to sustain a filibuster on the part of opponents of the bill.
Both Reid and McConnell seem to be holding to their roles: Reid says he wants cloture, and McConnell wants to bring up more amendments. At the moment, McConnell says he will oppose cloture until more amendments are discussed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Update: Roll Call vote list for Dorgan Amendment. The coalition held firm against this amendment, but it was supported by a variety of members from both parties. For a taste of the bipartisan cooperation on both sides: both Sen. Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Sessions (R-AL) supported it, and Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Lott (R-MS) both opposed.
Dorgan Amendment "Sunsets" Guest Worker Program: Tonight, the Senate passed 49-48 an amendment that would end the guest worker program after five years. Members of the "grand compromise" coalition have spoken about this program as a central component of said compromise. The loss of this program may deal a fatal blow to an already troubled bill. We'll have to see how it plays out over the next few hours/days.
Vote Roundup:

Clinton amendment fails.
Ensign amendment to change "point system" fails.
Salazar amendment to "preserve and enhance role of English" passes.
Inhofe amendment declaring English national language passes.
Vitter amendment for biometric system fails.
Obama amendment to "sunset" skills-based immigration changes fails.
Dorgan amendment to "sunset" guest worker program after five years passes 49-48.
Sen. Menendez family-reunification amendment fails for now on a budget point of order.
Poll Watch: Despite stories of weakening resistance, a new Rasmussen poll shows that support has fallen for Senate bill:
Public support for the Senate immigration reform bill has slipped a bit over the past week. A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted Monday and Tuesday night found that just 23% of voters now support the bill while 50% are opposed. Last week, 26% supported the Senate bill while 48% were opposed.

Bingaman amendment that would remove the requirement that Y-1 visa holders leave country before renewing their visas fails 41-57.
DeMint Amendment requiring health care coverage for Z visa holders fails 43-55.
Cornyn amendment fails 51-46; Kennedy amendment passes 66-32.
Against a backdrop of increasing pessimism over the fate of the bill, the Senate resumes debate on this immigration bill with an amendment by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). Amendment summary via Kathryn-Jean Lopez:

S.A. 1184 eliminates waivers for criminal street gang members, and those who have violated a final court-ordered removal who seek immigration benefits (a felony under section 243 of the INA), and clarifies that all felony DUIs are crimes of violence and therefore aggravated felonies. The amendment also makes identity thieves convicted of a felon y (18 U.S.C. 1028) or Social Security crimes (42 U.S.C. 408) are inadmissible and deportable. Also, felons convicted of failure to register as a sex offender (18 U.S.C. 2250) or high-speed flight (18 U.S.C. 758), or who are subject to a final removal order under (8 U.S.C. 1324(c)), are made ineligible for the “Z” visa. Finally, the amendment clarifies that aliens who the Attorney General or Secretary of Homeland Security determines have committed terrorist acts (covered by 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3) or 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(4) are barred from establishing good moral character.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is offering alternative amendment.

In debate, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) expressed fear that Sen. Cornyn's amendment could "kill" this bill.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

CBO Report Troubles Push for Senate Immigration Bill: In a setback for the President and a Senate coalition attempting to convince a skeptical public that the present "grand compromise" immigration bill, which in addition to including some language for border security and workplace enforcement could legalize over 12 million individuals presently here illegally, would actually "solve" the problems of illegal immigration, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report yesterday saying that the bill as presently amended would decrease the "net annual flow of illegal immigrants" by only 25%. Furthermore, the CBO asserted that certain parts of the bill--such as the guest worker program--would actually increase the number of illegal workers in this country (for example, individual guest workers may overstay their visas). Some observers think that the CBO report will strengthen the hand of those Senators wishing for more time to debate this bill.
(H/T: Stephen Dinan's story in today's Washington Times.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Summary of today's Senate debate: No amendments were voted on. A number of Senators--including Sessions (R-AL), Bingaman (D-NM), Kyl (R-AZ) and Domenici (R-NM)--spoke, proposing amendments and offering various reflections on the bill. The specter of the "killer amendment" (one that might disrupt the coalition holding the "grand bargain" together) was raised a number of times--Sen. Domenici (a supporter of the bill) particularly belabored the risks to the coalition in the amendment process. Though some have expressed optimism for the future of the present bill, there still seems to be some uncertainty about the ultimate strength of the coalition. At least at the margins of their debates.
Tomorrow, more amendments will probably come up. More on those then.
In some spirited analysis, Mickey Kaus discusses some of the policy of the enforcement provisions of bill. See also Rich Lowry's "Capitol Hill source" on the policy of employer screening.
Following up on post on Post-Gazette story below, a NYT story about the divisions in the New York region over immigration bill.
Immigration crackdown across the Atlantic.
Democratic Discontent: In Pennsylvania, a state where discontent with Republicans proved crucial for Democrats' recapturing of Congress (Bob Casey's victory over Rick Santorum helped secure the one-vote majority for Democrats in the US Senate, and Republicans lost more House seats--4--in PA than in any other state), there also appears to be discontent over the present Senate immigration bill. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, over 80% of Pennsylvanians are opposed to "amnesty". Freshman Democratic representative Jason Altmire seems to have declared his opposition to the Senate bill in this story. Rep. Phil English (R) also opposes it. Rep. Mike Doyle (D) has not decided yet, according to this story.
Now, on Senate floor, Jeff Sessions (R-AL) asks for more time to debate immigration bill. He cites the complexity of the bill--particularly the intricacies of enforcement.
Poll Watch: Washington Post/ABC News Poll: 29% of American approve of the way President Bush is handling immigration; 64% disapprove. 52% of Americans would support "program giving ILLEGAL immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here LEGALLY if they pay a fine and meet other requirements" (44% would oppose).
Still, some political observers wonder, this slim majority in favor of the idea of legalization may provide only so much public comfort to the architects of the current "grand bargain" Senate bill. Two consecutive polls by Rasmussen show that only 26% of Americans support the concrete bill actually being debated at the moment, S. 1348.
WaPo: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) say that resistance to "grand bargain" bill is weakening.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Some claim immigration enforcement is drying up jobs for those who lack documentation in Houston.
AP story points out some of the risks for exploitation in "guest worker" programs.
Senator Lamar Alexander hears from his constituents; they don't seem very happy. (H/T: Instapundit.)