Secret Reid Plan for Immigration Bill
PJM Washington Editor Richard Miniter has an exclusive report on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's use of an "unprecedented combination of legislative procedures" to push through the controversial Kennedy Immigration Bill.
June 26, 2007 - 8:41 pm
Rocketing through Republican Washington is a memo predicting Sen. Harry Reid will use a unprecedented combination of legislative procedures to shove through the immigration bill today-without real opposition.
The memo was drafted by a former Secretary for the Majority and Minority in the U.S. Senate, Elizabeth B. Letchworth. As an expert in senate rules, she was asked by several senators skeptical of the immigration bill to use her sources and her expertise to anticipate the legislative moves of the immigration bill supporters. She wrote the memo as private work, for concerned friends.
This memo, made public on PJ Media for the first time, lays out a purported plan by Democrats to use obscure senate procedures to force through the immigration bill hworkwith no amendments from skeptical or critical senators.
Letchworth predicts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will try this today.
She calls it “The Reid scenario,” which she says will kick off in less than two hours from this writing. Letchwork writes in an email: “The Reid scenario of offering amendments in strategic places in order to block any and all other amendments will commence when they return from their weekly party caucuses @ 2:15PM. [Today, Eastern] At the end of the amendment. offering process Sen. Reid will file cloture on the bill.”
Letchwork knows her way around the senate procedures-she was in thick of it when she served under then-majority leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott. Prior to being elected by the entire U.S. Senate to serve as its official secretary for several two- year terms, she worked in the Senate for more that two decades.
The Senate voted 64- 35 to end debate on S. 1639, the immigration measure, today. That means, Letchworth says, the “Reid scenario” is now in motion.
In a related development, House Republicans are pressing minority Leader John Boehner for a public vote of the entire House Republican caucus-expressly disavowing the Senate immigration bill.
Below is Letchworth’s memo in its entirety.
If 60 U.S. Senators vote for cloture on Tuesday, June 26th and then again on Thursday, June 28th, then the Kennedy 388 page immigration bill will be passed by the United States Senate without the benefit of a single minute of committee hearings, committee action as to amendments in committee and without the benefit of 99 Senators being able to propose any changes to the bill. The combination of procedures and maneuvers under the Senate Rules that Majority Leader Harry Reid will use to achieve this goal has never occurred in the history of the United States Senate.
How it will happen:
This Tuesday in the U.S. Senate @ approx. 11:45 AM [later amended to this week -RM] the Senate will conduct a roll call vote on whether the Senate should begin to debate the newly drafted 388 page immigration bill. This bill was introduced on June 18th, 2007 by Sen. Kennedy. If 60 votes are obtained on Tuesday, the bill will be pending in the Senate. Sen. Reid will then immediately take the floor and proceed in a completely unprecedented manner which will deny all Senators except for himself the right to offer amdts. to the bill. (Below is a description of how exactly this will be done.) A cloture motion will then be offered by Sen. Reid. That cloture vote will occur on Thursday. If 60 votes are garnered on Thursday, June 28th for cloture on S. 1639, then after the 30 hours have been used or yielded back, votes will occur automatically, in back-to-back sequence, on the Reid amdts. These roll call vote will conclude with a vote on final passage of S. 1639, the Kennedy Immigration bill.
Facts surrounding the bill:
S. 1639 was introduced in the Senate on June 18, 2007
S. 1639 did not get referred to the appropriate Senate committee which is regular order
S. 1639 did not receive any hearings in committee and receive the benefit of experts in the field of immigration testifying as to their knowledge of our present immigration system and the new immigration system contained in S. 1639
S. 1639 did not receive a markup in committee where Senators, who sit on that committee, could listen to the testimony by immigration experts, and could have had the opportunity to make changes to the text of S. 1639 by offering amdts.
Procedures to be used by Sen. Reid:
If 60 Senators vote to make S. 1639 the pending business in the Senate on Tuesday, June 26, Sen. Reid will immediately take the floor of the Senate and offer a 1st degree amdt. to S. 1639, and ask for the yeas and nays. This guarantees a roll call vote will occur on this amdt.
He will then send a 2nd degree amdt to the desk and ask for the yeas and nays. This achieves the same for the 2nd degree amdt. He will then ask that the amdt. to be divided.
This amdt will automatically be divided into sections that can stand alone as individual amdts. In other words, his second degree amdt. may have 18 sections, and by using this procedure, he has now put in place 18 amdts. Since the yeas and nays were ordered, so he has now been guaranteed a roll call vote will occur on all of these sections by using the Rules of the Senate.
These sections are presumably going to contain the text of amdts he believes Republican and Democratic Senators wanted to offer when the Senate debated the last immigration bill a few weeks ago.
Now no other amdts are in order since he has placed his amdts in these specific places in the amendment process allowed by the Senate Rules. No other Senator can stop him from using these maneuvers since Sen. Reid has priority recognition over all other United States Senators. By Sen. Reid using this amendment process and calling for a division of his amdt., he can guarantee Senators that votes will occur on issues he has chosen to offer and on issues he believes will please enough Senators as to earn the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture and pass the bill.
Sen. Reid will then send a cloture motion to the desk setting up the cloture vote for Thursday. The bill is now pending but no Senator can offer amdts because he is blocking them by using his priority recognition and offering his own amdts.
If 60 Senators vote on Thursday to limit debate on S. 1639, at the end of the 30 hours allowed by Senate Rule 22, votes will automatically begin, without further debate, on all of the Reid amdts in a back-to-back sequence. The final vote will be a vote on Final Passage of S. 1639, the Kennedy Immigration bill.