- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2007

The immigration debate in the Senate has slid so far off track that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid kicked off this morning’s session by comparing it to the mess created by Dr. Seuss‘ “Cat in the Hat.”

Still, Mr. Reid said he sees reasons for hope.

“If you go back and read Dr. Seuss, the cat manages to clean up the mess,” the Nevada Democrat said.

He sounded more conciliatory than yesterday, when he accused Republicans of looking for excuses to kill the bill. The Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, also sounded less confrontational than when he declared yesterday that Democrats were trying to “stuff” Republicans by steamrolling over their amendments.

Nevertheless, the same problem remains: Republicans have vowed to filibuster unless they are allowed to offer dozens of amendments to try to improve the bill or make Democrats face difficult votes, while Democrats say the bill already is the result of a bipartisan agreement and so votes should be limited.

Democrats blocked another five Republican amendments from even being offered this morning.

Mr. Reid has scheduled a vote tomorrow to set a time limit on the debate, which would effectively block most amendments Republicans want. If Republicans choose to filibuster, Mr. Reid says he will drop the immigration bill from the schedule and move on to other issues, likely dooming immigration legislation for the year.

Mr. McConnell said the goal shouldn’t be the number of days spent on debate today is the eighth but rather how many amendments get to be considered.

So far, that’s fewer than a dozen roll-call votes, compared with more than 30 last year.

Mr. Reid says the number of amendments can be limited because this year’s bill builds on the one that passed the Senate last year. However, even he rejected that bill, choosing to use a committee-passed bill instead as a legislative place holder this year.

First up today for the Senate will be votes on an amendment by Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, to prevent illegal aliens who already have been ordered deported from gaining amnesty and legal status. It also would mandate that gang members and terrorist supporters are ineligible for legalization.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, will offer a counteramendment.

Mr. Reid said he would be willing to move tomorrow’s debate-limits vote until later but that the bill must be done this week.

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