Senate immigration debate off to rocky start
June 12th, 2013
07:24 PM ET
2 years ago

Senate immigration debate off to rocky start

Washington (CNN) – Procedural maneuvering bogged down action in the Senate Wednesday on the first full day of debate on the immigration reform bill. Senators discussed key amendments but battled over whether and how to cast votes so early in the debate.

At one point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pushed for a series of quick votes on Republican amendments, including two significant measures to tighten border security requirements in the bill. But Republicans objected to Democrats' demand that a supermajority of 60 votes be required for passage.

Strategically Republicans knew they would lose leverage if their amendments were to fall early in the debate. They offered to hold the votes at a more favorable 50-vote threshold but Democrats objected to that idea, worried that under that scenario some of the GOP amendments might pass.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, an opponent of the bill, called Reid's move "provocative" and said if a 60-vote threshold is required "it really looks like the fix is in and the bill's rigged to pass basically as it is."

Reid countered that Republicans for years have demanded a 60-vote threshold for the most important measures before the body.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, a leading critic of the bill, also complained that, "We can't just throw up a bunch of amendments here at the beginning and people haven't had time to digest them."

The two key border security amendments were offered by Grassley and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the number two GOP leader. Cornyn's amendment would require the government to stop 90% of illegal border crossings before other reforms related to a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would kick in.

Reid has called Cornyn's requirements unachievable and his amendment a "poison pill' designed to kill the bill.

Nevertheless, toughening the border security provisions in the bill is seen by senators in both parties as the key to its passage. Cornyn's amendment picked up support Wednesday from Sen. Mark Kirk, a moderate Republican from Illinois, who said he would vote against the bill final bill unless Cornyn's amendment, or something close to it, is included.


Filed under: Immigration • Senate
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Very pathetic guys.

    June 12, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    There is too much opposition to this plan, for it to succeed. I am totally opposed to it, myself.

    June 12, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  3. rs

    Republicans have delayed, obstructed and negotiated in bad faith for so long, the simple reality is they no longer know how to legislate for the benefit of the nation and its citizenry. It's just a game to them now, nothing more.

    June 12, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  4. ST

    How are republicans going to measure it is 90% and NOT 60% or 120% that now the Government has stopped illegal border crossing? Is there any instrument they are going to use?

    June 12, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  5. Larry L

    The Texas Senator Cornyn continues to work to obstruct progress in every area. Why don't Republicans just change the name of the Party to "A Bunch of Bigoted White People Plus A Very Few Oreos and Coconuts". It's long but really does describe the Republican Party of today. They want votes from minorities but still consider only fearful, white Christians to be the "real Americans".

    June 12, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  6. Justin G

    if they would just do what Rubio ask it would be passed and done with but democrats want political votes at any expense even if that is crashing the American economy or hurting millions of Americans financially. as long as the votes coming in outnumber the those they hurt, they could care less.

    June 12, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  7. stick it

    Until america can take care of americans no reform if there is amniesty for elegals then there r alot of felons born in this country that need amnesty i.e. None violent crimes that should have civil liberties restored as long as they have paid thier dept to society!!!!!

    June 12, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  8. jimmorrisonmania

    We can only hope and pray that this travesty that will destroy the American Worker and American Taxpayer will fail. I have voted democratically in the last two elections. Could the Democrats be more obvious? They don’t want border security, they don’t want workplace enforcement, They have absolutely no desire to stop illegal immigration (if they did they would not be killing every amendment put forward to tighten border security before amnesty is handed out, and they certainly don’t care about the American Worker. They want Amnesty right away so that they can try and tap into 11 million new voters who promise to vote democratically. They will gladly sacrifice every American worker and taxpayer to do it. Next election I am voting a straight republican ticket. And if this garbage passes I will vote for anyone in any party who will try to repeal it!!

    June 12, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  9. Suemac in WA

    This is not an immigration bill as it sits today, it is a amnesty bill, it does nothing but promise to secure the borders some time in the future, it does allow free schooling, free lunches, food assistance, housing allowance and a clear path to citizenship for a small back payment on unpaid taxes; if this thing passes without first securing the borders; the wave of illegal immigrants will look like Niagara falls.

    June 12, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  10. Luis

    I Hope they kick this people
    Back to their country!!

    June 12, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  11. just me

    NOW they want a simple majority to advance legislation? Give it to them, then keep that rule for all senate actions. Their howling will be off the charts

    June 12, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  12. swej

    Agreeing with the Party of No is a tough thing to do, but in this instance if border security cannot be achieved then the bill should fail. Other country's are able to secure their borders. Why is it so hard for this country which according to our elected officials is the "greatest" in the world is impotent when it comes to border security.

    We do not have a fence on the Canadian/US border. It doesn't seem to have the same problem as the southern border. Apparently, Mexico is not interested in securing their border.

    As some used to say, "there is something rotten in Denmark".

    June 13, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  13. march

    As a liberal, and having friends who have been seriously affected by the break up of their families due to deportation, I would think about putting the 14th amendment on the table to keep these hard working families here.

    June 13, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  14. hender1123

    I've got a radical new idea. Pass a bill that will force those that work for and within the government to enforce the laws that are already on the books. Establish a committee that would explain the idea to Obama. Have them use simple words and lots of pictures. They could diagram out the process and highlight good behavior and underline the bad behavior. Have the committee take it all really slow and repeat statements as many times as necessary so that Obama can understand these new ideas. They must understand that this is a completely new concept and give Obama plenty of positive encouragement so that he might begin understand the idea of "good" and "bad".

    June 13, 2013 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  15. James Ruston

    Republican hypocrites. They know that border security is impossible without spending billions and billions of taxpayer dollars. Yet they supported the idiocy known as sequestration. They apparently want to build a multi-billion dollar border security system while cutting the budget.

    June 13, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  16. J.V.Hodgson

    This is why we have an almost totally inoperative let alone dysfunctional government.
    when Reid invokes the Republican constant demand of 60 votes on anything to pass in the Senate to either get a debate to the floor or to pass amendments.... they ( Republicans) cry Foul!! Hypocrites, party of no,, and our way or the highway again.
    Enough, I am sick and tired of these stupid squabbles..... puhleeese no border control will ever be 100% perfect and we are arguing about 80% or 90 % secure. Simple question, if someone immigrates illegally QED we did not know ( so to measure) so how do you measure the immeasurable, until its too late.
    By the way there are two borders over 3000 miles long South and North, and how do we prevent tunnels bringing in more illegals = proper laws to prevent undocumented illegals getting any employment if illegally in USA and if they do the employer being severely sanctioned.... ah but Republicans Small business low pay agricultural farmers don't like that.
    Its not even news, this bill under debate ( maybe) (Or house version) is dead in the water already, and the House and Senate bills wont even get to conference debate just like budgets for the last four years.
    To me Reid is right. Some Senate Republicans vowed to oppose conference on budgets for debt aspects and immigration if it did not include their way or the highway thinking. Again Enough!!
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    June 13, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  17. Mary

    It's amazing that we have so many elected politicians who refuse to represent US citizens and instead pander to low-wage employers, and foreigners who have barged into our country uninvited. The latter group clearly doesn't have much respect for the rule of law and deserve only to depart to their home countries. Our current laws need to be enforced, as promised in 1986 with the one-time only legalization, at a time when millions of US citizens are suffering from un- and underemployment. We are not fooled by the language of this bill. It is a give away to foreigners and employers and serves as a slap in the face to anyone who thought we were a country of laws.

    June 13, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  18. Hillcrester

    Relax, everyone. This is all political theater.

    Nothing substantive will pass both Houses and get the President's signature this year, or next.

    Although the GOP understands the risks in obstructing progress on immigration, their caucus is too afraid of primary election opponents to act. They are frozen.

    June 13, 2013 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  19. Richard Long

    Like we are supposed to trust the government that this "immigration reform" will be enforced properly and it is good for the country. This is the same government that:
    – blatantly lies to the press and the people on a constant and continual basis
    – use the IRS as a political weapon
    – used fear and intimidation to push it's agendas
    – has pushed a disastrous healthcare law

    But no worries... Obama will just make an executive order like last time.

    June 13, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  20. 82ndABNVET

    The border needs to be SECURED first and foremost. Otherwise you will just see more and more ILLEGALs flooding our nation.

    No, they are not undocumented. They are ILLEGAL. They are in this country illegally. They are breaking the law. They should be rounded up and either sent to jail or back to thier native land on thier own dime.

    How many ILLEGALs cross the border each and every day? Now think about how many could-be or would-be or known terrorist can/would/have will cross or have crossed already. Also, this isnt just about the southern border with Mexico, we need to make sure the longer border with Canada is also protected. It is too easy to focus all the attention in one spot and for someone to sneek in behind you while you are distracted.

    And they will not be adding to the tax base. The vast majority will be taking from the system with food stamps, disability, medicare/medicaid, social security but not contributing very much if at all to the system.

    This will only add 12 million or however many more Dem voters. That is what this is all about.

    Secure the border. Then we can talk about providing them a legal way to become a citizen.

    June 13, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |