The immigration deal foundered yesterday, on the verge of collapse under its own weight just days after it appeared to have a clear path to pass the Senate.
By late in the afternoon, Republicans were accusing Democrats of trying to “stuff” them, and Democrats said Republicans were trying to kill the bill by obstructing the process. Both sides were saying they don’t know whether the process can be put back on track.
A showdown is scheduled for tomorrow, when Democrats said they will force a vote to set a time limit on the bill, and Republicans have promised to block that move through a filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that if Republicans block his effort to limit debate, it would bump the bill off the schedule and likely derail it for the rest of the year.
“People are looking for excuses on the Republican side to kill this bill,” he said.
The Nevada Democrat said Republicans are trying to bog down the bill by piling up dozens of amendments — most of them from senators who “have no intention of voting for this bill, no matter what we do with it.”
But Republicans said Democrats are blitzing them by blocking Republicans from even offering amendments.
“The best way to process this bill is not for the majority to try to ‘stuff,’ if you will, the minority, because that will not happen, I assure you,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who contended that Democrats were trying to block Republican amendments because they were afraid of having to take tough votes.
“He would like to move this bill and have his members exposed to the fewest number of votes,” Mr. McConnell chided Mr. Reid on the Senate floor.
Senators said the bill is suffering from the way it was written — behind closed doors by a small bipartisan group of senators and the Bush administration.
Things got so bogged down that for an hour, senators bickered on the floor about who should have the right to offer the next amendment or demand a vote on amendments offered two weeks ago.
“I’ve been waiting 13 days for a vote on my amendment,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, who threatened to block any action until Democrats agreed to set up a vote. His amendment would prevent illegal aliens who have been ordered deported from gaining amnesty.
The blowup is eerily similar to last year’s immigration bill. During the first go-round, even though Republicans were in control, Mr. Reid blocked votes on all but a few Republican amendments.
But after being blamed by President Bush, editorial boards and even many of his own supporters for short-circuiting the bill, Mr. Reid relented, and the Senate returned to the bill a second time and passed it, though it never received a vote in the House.View Entire Story
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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