Get PJ Media on your Apple

Hefty GOP Support Moves Immigration Bill Over Procedural Hurdle

Senate bill faces cloudy future in upper chamber and Republican-controlled House.

by
Bill Straub

Bio

June 11, 2013 - 6:50 pm

WASHINGTON – Proponents of immigration reform cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday as the full Senate agreed to debate proposed legislation – but the chances for ultimately getting the package through the upper chamber remain foggy.

In a rare 82-15 bipartisan vote, including 30 Republicans voting yes, in what has been a divisive session, the Senate agreed to move the bill along despite the reservations of conservatives – including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the prime authors – that it doesn’t concentrate sufficiently on security.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted to permit the debate to proceed, joining others in opposing a filibuster to block debate. But that doesn’t mean he supports the legislation and that attempts to derail the effort won’t crop up in the future.

“I’ll vote to debate it and for the opportunity to amend it, but in the days ahead there will need to be major changes to this bill if it’s going to become law,” McConnell said. “These include, but are not limited to, the areas of border security, government benefits and taxes.”

McConnell said he will need more than assurances from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that the southern border is secure before he’ll agree to support the measure.

“Too often recently, we have been reminded that as government grows it becomes less responsible to the American people and fails to perform basic functions either through incompetence or willful disregard of the wishes of Congress,” McConnell said. “Our continued failure to secure major portions of the border not only makes true immigration reform far more difficult, it presents an urgent threat to national security.”

McConnell said he is also listening to critics who maintain the bill will prove costly to American taxpayers.

“It’s a fair critique,” he said. “Those who were here illegally shouldn’t have their unlawful status rewarded with benefits and tax credits. So this bill has some serious flaws. And we need to be serious about fixing them. The goal here should be to make the status quo better, not worse. And that’s what the next few weeks are about — they’re about giving the entire Senate, and indeed, the entire country, an opportunity to weigh in on this debate, to make their voices heard, and try to improve our immigration policy.”

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) also cast a shadow over the bill’s future even though he acknowledges the current immigration system “has failed the citizens of this country.” He expressed particular concerns about border security measures

“We cannot just trust that the border will get fixed,” he said. “Steps must be taken now to secure our borders, expand employer verification and improve the existing exit system. Fixing our immigration crisis is critical to growing our economy and strengthening national security.”

The 1,076-page Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, as it currently stands, creates a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants who entered or remained in the country without proper documentation.

Under the bill, illegal immigrants who have resided in the U.S. since Dec. 13, 2011, must seek provisional legal status that allows them to work but renders them ineligible for federal benefits. They must pay a penalty, taxes and a processing fee and can only apply for permanent status after 10 years.

A new visa program for low-skilled workers would be developed and the Department of Homeland Security would be charged with coming up with a $4.5 billion plan to gain effective control of the porous Southern border with Mexico.

A final vote on the measure, after the amendment process, is expected to come before July 4. Even if it passes, it faces a cloudy fate in the Republican-controlled House.

Regardless, the bill is getting a major push from President Obama, who said Monday that the nation’s immigration system “hasn’t kept pace with changing times and hasn’t matched up with our most cherished values.” He urged lawmakers to vote for the bill, calling it “a common-sense, bipartisan bill that is the best chance we’ve had in years to fix our broken immigration system.”

“Right now, our immigration system keeps families apart for years at a time,” he said. “Even for folks who, technically, under the legal immigration system, should be eligible to become citizens but it is so long and so cumbersome, so byzantine, that families end up being separated for years.  Because of a backlog in visas, people who come here legally — who are ready to give it their all to earn their place in America — end up waiting for years to join their loved ones here in the United States. It’s not right. But that’s the broken system we have today.”

Rubio, who hails from a Cuban family and is thought to have White House aspirations, continues to provide mixed signals about his intentions even though he was a prominent member of the “Gang of Eight,” the bipartisan group that pieced the compromise package together.

Recently, Rubio has joined fellow conservatives in voicing concern that the bill doesn’t sufficiently address border security. He has indicated that he won’t vote for it in its current form despite earlier pledges.

“Border security is not an anti-immigrant measure,” he said. “I refuse to accept the idea that the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation that put a man on the moon, is incapable of securing its own border.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the bill’s primary opponents, said he nonetheless supports the concept of immigration reform. Americans are convinced, he said, that the current system is not working and that the nation needs to secure the borders and improve and streamline legal immigration.

“On those basic principles, there is widespread bipartisan agreement, and if this body were to focus on those areas of bipartisan agreement, that’s how we would get an immigration bill passed into law,” he said.

But Democrats and the White House are standing in the way, he said, because they are insisting on a provision that provides a path to citizenship for the undocumented workers already here “and threw everything else overboard.”

“I very much hope we work together in a bipartisan manner to fix this problem in a way that secures the border, in a way that respects rule of law and in a way that improves legal immigration so we remain a nation that welcomes and celebrates legal immigrants,” Cruz said.

Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
The IRS doesn't matter. The NSA doesn't matter. F&F doesn't matter. If Obama signs this law he could be impeached, he could be indicted... hell, he could have a heart attack and drop dead and it won't matter. The Left will have won.

Even if this bill secures the border (a dubious proposition at best) that's a red herring. What this bill does to reform the LEGAL immigration system will cause a demographic shift that all but ensures the Democrats' status as the dominant national party for generations. Fiscal conservatism and small government advocacy will be reduced to fringe movements at best.

Basically if any form of this passes we're screwed. The Republicans being as stupid, short-sighted and self-interested as they are I'm thinking we're screwed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Immigration reform would be simple IF we first secured the border and proceeded in the BEST INTERESTS OF AMERICA, not a political party or a single demographic. That's kind of the way it used to be. Unfortunately, I don't expect to live long enough to see it like that again.

We will require a revolution whether it comes to bullets or not, a full and complete revolution is necessary. Tweeking around the edges will solve nothing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You people discussing the details of immigration reform are completely missing the point. The people making these plans have no intention of observing any procedure. While you waste precious days of your life trying to come up with some proposal The Left is busy rigging the system so that whatever is passed accomplishes their goals.

No wonder The Right is so ineffective. They are like Aspy nerds trying to refute the reasons why their girlfriend is breaking up with them. If you want to stop this legislative abortion from happening you have to throw sand in the machinery that is advancing it. Talk, talk, talk and you will become slaves. Talk isn't being heard outside of the Rightwing Ghetto. Everybody inside the ghetto should stop preaching to the choir and take action outside of the gated-community of Rightwing media.

Don't sit around and wait for Glenn Beck to organize a talkfest in DC, after the bureaucrats go on summer vacation, occupy offices now. Tie up their phone lines, now. Block parking lots used by bureaucrats now.

What will it take for conservatives, the people that have the most reason to love this country, to go out and actually do something? Stop calling into Talk Radio and desperately trying to convince the host to be conservative. He already is.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (20)
All Comments   (20)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
The current bill does none of the items you listed. Back Taxes....NO,
Learn english, NO. Fine of $1,000 if you are over 21, you have 15 years to pay that off or you could get the loophole which says you can't afford it.
No benefits...that is the real joke. The moment they step foot on us soil and get a green card they get benefits.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
13+ million unregistered future democrats. This cannot be considered a windfall, it is precisely planned and expertly executed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If a bill is passed that grants any form of amnesty whatsoever with Republican support I will never vote Republican again. I have never voted for a third party - ever - but would only vote third party in the future. The Republican Party is right now in the process of forcing a bad bill that its base does not want on the country. It punishes all Americans who will be forced to subsidize the massive cost of the entitlements granted to the illegals. Well, Republicans if you decide your base is the "illegal" population YOU are leaving me. For my part I will be happy to be rid of the stench of collaboration that the Republican Party has come to represent.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's bad policy and bad politics. Obama's approval rating is 45% and they are going to bail him out with a horrible bill.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The IRS doesn't matter. The NSA doesn't matter. F&F doesn't matter. If Obama signs this law he could be impeached, he could be indicted... hell, he could have a heart attack and drop dead and it won't matter. The Left will have won.

Even if this bill secures the border (a dubious proposition at best) that's a red herring. What this bill does to reform the LEGAL immigration system will cause a demographic shift that all but ensures the Democrats' status as the dominant national party for generations. Fiscal conservatism and small government advocacy will be reduced to fringe movements at best.

Basically if any form of this passes we're screwed. The Republicans being as stupid, short-sighted and self-interested as they are I'm thinking we're screwed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It feels like ground hog day. It is 1986 again. We are once again going to "trade" phony border security for a new flavor of amnesty. The most logical way to approach this problem would have been to craft two bills: The first implementing and then demonstrating border security and the second, dependent on the first, a plan to deal with the illegals here already. Anything else is doomed to failure. The bozos in congress are simply engaged in a contest to divide up the "new" voting bloc.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, the current republican position now is to just give up because they are tired of this issue interfering with their socializing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Immigration reform would be simple IF we first secured the border and proceeded in the BEST INTERESTS OF AMERICA, not a political party or a single demographic. That's kind of the way it used to be. Unfortunately, I don't expect to live long enough to see it like that again.

We will require a revolution whether it comes to bullets or not, a full and complete revolution is necessary. Tweeking around the edges will solve nothing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lenin once said: A Capitalist will sell us the rope we will hang him with. The Republicans have been selling their votes to the Democrats thus giving the Democrats what they want while getting only broken promises in return. This immigration bill is the political hanging of the Republican Party if it passes since it will ensure such strong Democrat majorities, and the White House, that elections will be even bigger charades than they are now.

The Democrats will no more deliver on border security than they have in the last 20 years, less so since the more people who flood across, the more votes they will have. Crime? Collapsing economy? Busted budgets? Hyperinflation? The Democrats won't care. They will have the throne atop the ashes and that's all they care about. Power.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Called my Senators Cornyn and Cruz. Also persuaded several friends to make calls and they reported that it took a couple attempts to get through to Cornyn's phone.

Look at this map of the Senate seats up for reelection in 2014.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2014
Note that most of the Red States "L" is in play. Many states where the cost to influence an election is low. Every Senator that voted to move the amnesty/guest worker bill forward should get a primary election challenger. Same goes for the House. Conservatives shouldn't accept sellout legislators in safe seats.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 Next View All

One Trackback to “Hefty GOP Support Moves Immigration Bill Over Procedural Hurdle”