June 8th, 2007
12:13 PM ET
12 years ago

Senators play blame game on immigration bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell discusses the immigration bill's collapse on the Senate floor Thursday night.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senators on all sides of the immigration bill were quick to assign blame for the bill's defeat Thursday night.

"We just cast a dumb vote," minority whip Trent Lott complained in the Senate hallway.

The veteran Republican from Mississippi blamed Reid for pushing for the vote too early. In fact, Lott said that just an hour before the critical vote he pleaded with Reid to give GOP leaders just 12 more hours to secure more votes. "He decided not to," Lott lamented.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, who helped write the bill, also blamed Reid for curbing GOP amendments to the bill. He said 10 to 12 more amendments could have pushed support for the bill up to 65 to 70 votes.

"I still think that's possible," said Graham, who vowed to find a way to get the issue back on the floor. "I'm hopeful that we'll get our act together and try to find a solution to this problem. We're very close. That's frustrating."

But Democrats passed the blame to Bush, who they said sunk the bill with his hands-off despite his support for it.

"When the president calls Harry Reid and says I can get some more votes for you, we'll come back to it," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a supporter of the bill. "But until that time we can't. They say he made some phone calls but he could only deliver six or seven votes."

Schumer also doubted Lott and Graham's contention that more time and more amendments would have won more votes.

"It would have been two or three days away, then two or three days away, then two or three days away," Schumer said. "It will change when the president really gets involved."

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, a fierce critic of the bill, was also angry about how Bush talked about opponents of the measure.

"People who complained about this bill, I've never sensed they were anti-immigrant. There's no bigotry, there's no fear of diversity. The president has really stumbled using those kinds of words. What these folks want is a legal system that works," he said.

"I think everybody loses," said Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina. "(There) seems to be unanimous agreement in the country that the status quo is unacceptable."

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, agreed.

"This is a bill with serious shortcomings but at the end of the day you have to ask yourself, what are the consequences of doing nothing? People are saying this bill is amnesty? Amnesty is doing nothing."

Commerce Department Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, a top administration negotiator on the bill, didn't want to answer a reporter's questions about what went wrong.

"I know as much as you do," he said while walking away. "I'm not going to second-guess this until I get more information."

Another key player who didn't want to talk was Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, a presidential contender and key supporter of the bill, which is unpopular with many of the conservative voters he is trying to attract.

Moving quickly past reporters after the vote, he responded to questions by saying, "I don't have anything to say. I'm sorry. I don't have anything to say. I apologize. I don't have anything to say. Thank you."

- CNN Congressional Correspondent Ted Barrett

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. DJ, Los Angeles, CA

    What a colossal waste of our tax dollars yet again.

    Enforce our existing laws, defend the border. There is no need to change the law, or offer amnesty for breaking the law.

    Quit wasting all this time debating wedge issues.

    June 8, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. Merry Dobbins, Dallas GA

    BLAME?! Shouldn't we be more interested in identifying those whom we should thank for supporting American citizens and the rule-of-law instead of the Mexican oligarchy and their complicit government?

    June 8, 2007 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. Sacramento

    We badly need a immigration reform but this is ridiculous. My question is how can we reach a compromise and when? Do we have to wait until we reach 50 million illegal immigrants? I believe every senators need to set a side their own political hidden agendas and work on a common ground which is badly needed reform.

    June 8, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. LMotz Pennsburg, PA

    Whoever is really responsible for sinking this bill deserves an award for standing up for the middle class Americans who would ultimately have footed the bill. The lawmakers should be worried about enforcing the immigration laws now on the books. The illegals are CRIMINALS for crying out loud. Shut down the industries that refuse to pay the minimum wage to American citizens who are out of work.

    June 8, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. travis

    Great! Now vote them out of office. Power to the people! Life-time politicians are the problem.

    June 8, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Linda, Houston Tx

    Sen. Sessions of Alabama is our #1 American Hero. He stood on the floor and told the truth about this horrible bill , that was totally anti-american. He stood up for all Americans, Shame Bush, Reid, Kennedy, Mccain, Clinton, Spector, they only want to kick americans, We have yet to understand why these Main people seem to Hate America the MOST!!!!!!!!!!

    June 8, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. DJ, Los Angeles, CA

    Already posted once...but I had to just add one more comment that had to be made.

    The reason why Bush wants to keep pressing is because he big $ corporate constituents want to continue to exploit low cost labor. That is the ONLY reason Bush keeps forcing the issue. It has absolutely nothing to do with "reform" or trying to have a more humane approach.

    It is bad enough corporate America has outsourced millions of jobs to 3rd world sweatshops.

    Don't be fooled by theatrics of the politicians. This is all about taking care of big $ consituents...nothing else.

    June 8, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. Mike Brooks, Eugene, Oregon

    Blame? This is what the American voter wanted! Once you get past the left wing fuzzy "human rights" and right wing "cheap workers" nonsense, this legislation was a very bad idea. Illegal workers already take millions fo jobs from Amercian's, they cost taxpayers well over a trillion dollars in costs for schools, crime, and other expenses, and everyone with a brain in the middle wants them rounded up and deported. So...get to it! Let's close down the border, enact legislation that will simply bankrupt companies AND INDIVIDUALS who hire illegals ($10,000 a day per worker would stop that nonsense), end the subcontractor loophole that consrtruction companies use to hire them, and take the twisted interpretation of the Pryor decision footnote to the Supreme Court and do away with automatic citizenship for the children of illegals. Then, actively seek out illegals and arrest them and deport them.

    June 8, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. alex chapman ville platte,la.

    Advice to Democrats: don't get into a blame-game contest with Republicans;especially if George W. Bush is on their side. They're much too good at it for you to come out ahead.

    June 8, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. Sonia Evans Texas

    We dont need reform. ICE just needs to enforce the law. When Clinton was in office our government targeted the employers who employed the illegals. Bush came in and stopped going after the employers. Now that the illegals have been here so long and the employers have gotten used to cheap labor, the illegals have gotten a sense of entitlement...hence their logos "Amnesty now". Target the employers and you get rid of the problem. We shouldnt be importing the poor we have enough poor americans.

    June 8, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. Tom W - Dedham, Mass

    Many of you may be a polar opposite to me politically, but this one bill will have repurcussions on every facet of our lives as REGULAR FOLKS, our hospitals, schools, police and wages are all effected by the one bill that is uniting us, simply AMERICANS who want the current laws enforced.

    This does not effect any of them at all.

    June 8, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. Alex Luthor, Madison, WI

    I'm not a religious person, but "Amen!".

    My senators (Kohl and Feingold) voted in favor of this bill, and every bill that helps illegal aliens. They haven't been-and still won't be-getting my vote ever!

    June 8, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  13. Dennis Johnson, Moorhead, MN

    Neither Democrats nor Republicans in years past have shown ANY inclination to enforce immigration laws. Now, they want to pass a new immigration law. I beieve Americans are kidding themselves if they believe there will be any changes in enforcement, whether its a new law or a continuation of the old laws.

    C'mon Congress - how about this. Enforce the present immigration laws for FIVE years. THEN when you have our trust that laws will actually be enforced, we can talk about a new law.

    June 8, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. Immigration Voice, Tampa, Florida

    Good riddance. This bill did not address any problems of Employment based immigrants. It stiffed people who have been waiting for the Greencards over five years into more waiting. Democrats have gone too far leftish in trying to accommodate illegal immigrants, bending over backwards in awarding all kinds of provisions to illegal immigrants. Yet, at the same time legal immigrants were not offered slightest bit of relief. I am glad this bill died.

    June 8, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  15. Donna Wells Whittier, CA

    Blame Game?

    The senators voting against a bill with no cost study having been made should be proud!

    More time? It was rushed because wages are not keeping up with inflation and people are losing homes. Our dollar is in free fall. They knew they HAD to attempt to rush it through.

    Wages have gone up for a few but hasn't kept up with food and energy costs.

    The Economist magazzine from England states it would take 8 years at the least to do the paper work of people who have filed for legal citizenship, locate and process.

    Tancredo is correct, our nation needs a "Time Out" on foreign workers and trying to locate illegal aliens.

    We need security of work, safety, prevention of disease entering our nation undetected, illicit drugs, serious criminals, and terrorists.

    Where is pride of oath of office to uphold our constitution and nation?

    June 9, 2007 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  16. Michele Garland, Texas

    Once everyone in Washington is finished pointing fingers of blame for the failure of the Immigration with Amnesty bill to pass, I hope they'll share those persons names with "we the people" who they represent, so that we can properly THANK THEM for actually doing what the citizens of our country wanted. The government is so tied into big business interests that we regular citizens aren't even heard anymore! We need a government who cares about the wants and needs of ALL our citizens, not just those who provide the most "perks" to our government, not caring a flip about the nation as a whole.
    We need to help our politicians remember that they are working for us, and to start listening to us and voting they way we want.

    Let's all be sure to let our state Senators and Congressmen know that for one they actually somehow backed into voting the way the people wanted – even though it surely was by accident, it kept that bill out. Mr. Bush is going to try to revive it but we all have to stay vigil and take back our country by and for the people! This is OUR country!

    June 11, 2007 03:06 am at 3:06 am |

    President Bush has really messed this country up and America should get back to being Law abiding and enforce our current laws on immigration and let President Bush govern Mexico, because he can not do it here. I voted for him because I thought he was for America but I was wrong He likes Mexico much better, how dare him to ask our men to put their lives on the line over in Iraq but give the country away to the Mexicans while our Army is gone. This is wrong! Veitnam Vets!Rule.

    June 25, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |