The immigration "reform" cooked up by the Gang of Eight is finally on the front burner in Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee will mark up the comprehensive package Thursday, and already it appears the process is doomed to failure, and by design.
The bill's co-authors insist they will thwart amendments that threaten the compromises underpinning the 844-page bill hashed out over months of negotiations in a back room. That pledge to block amendments will be tested by two proposals offered by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, the committee chairman.
Mr. Leahy's amendment would allow a homosexual citizen to obtain citizenship for a "permanent partner," which is a clear invitation to widespread fraud. A watered-down alternative would limit this benefit only to same-sex couples who are legally "married" in one of the 11 states that recognize such unions.
While these amendments may be popular among committee Democrats, either deserves to arrive dead on arrival in the House. It's unlikely that an immigration-reform bill with the Leahy amendment could win a simple majority in the full Senate. Such an amendment certainly couldn't overcome the inevitable filibuster, given that at least six Democratic senators representing red or purple states are up for re-election in 2014, including Sens. Mark R. Warner of Virginia, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark L. Pryor of Arkansas and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. None of them wants to go on record with a vote sure to offend their constituents.
The homosexual-partner amendment poses a similar dilemma for Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, both Democrats, who are members of both the Gang of Eight and the Judiciary Committee. Do they agree to take the "poison pill" (as they surely would, given their druthers), and jeopardize the bill's prospects for passage, or do they stand by their four Republican colleagues in the gang who have all said they oppose it and that it would doom the bill?
Indeed, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the Republican gang member whose continued support of the bill is crucial to its passage, warned that the Leahy amendment "will virtually guarantee" the end of the reform effort. "If that issue is injected into this bill, the bill will fail, and the coalition that helped put it together will fall apart," he told Politico, the Capitol Hill daily.
Mr. Leahy's prescription of the poison pill lends credence to what's being called the Limbaugh theorem, so named after the radio show host, which holds that Democrats are less interested in passing immigration reform on a bipartisan basis than in using it as a club against Republicans. Democratic campaign managers are drooling over the prospect of taking to the airwaves in Hispanic markets with insinuations that Republicans blocked immigration reform only because they're all racists.
This ploy won't work if Republicans succeed with explanations — as they can if they try — of the economic and social cost of amnesty.
The Washington Times
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