View Full Version : Kennedy Plea Was Last Gasp for Immigration Bill

06-10-2007, 09:48 AM
June 9, 2007
Kennedy Plea Was Last Gasp for Immigration Bill
This article was reported by Carl Hulse, Robert Pear and Jeff Zeleny and written by Mr. Hulse.

WASHINGTON, June 8 — It was the moment of truth for legislation that would make the most profound changes in immigration policy in more than 20 years.

Desperate to salvage a measure in which he and others had invested months, Senator Edward M. Kennedy headed to the secluded Capitol suite of Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, to make one last personal plea.

Mr. Kennedy, an immigration advocate since his first days in the Senate nearly 45 years ago, hoped to persuade Mr. Reid to delay a procedural vote that could kill the measure. As the two met shortly after 7 p.m. on Thursday in the well-appointed office that overlooks the Mall, Mr. Reid told Mr. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, that Republicans would just endlessly stall the bill and that it was time to move on. Mr. Reid had already granted enough extensions.

Just minutes before that meeting, Senate Republicans in the middle of the immigration fight had ended an hours-long huddle at which they argued over what demands they would make in exchange for agreeing to cap the debate time. But they could not see eye to eye among themselves and ultimately filed empty-handed out of the office of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

Within two hours, the centerpiece of President Bush’s remaining domestic agenda and what many people saw as the best chance to get a handle on the worsening immigration problem, was yanked from the floor. Two weeks of debate had failed to stem attacks from critics on the right and left; 38 Republicans, 11 Democrats and 1 independent rejected Mr. Reid’s call to limit debate and head toward a resolution.

This account is based on interviews with senators, administration officials and others who spent much of the week in the Capitol as the Senate debated the bill.

“People on opposite sides of the political spectrum, in effect, banded together to defeat the middle,” said James G. Gimpel, a professor at the University of Maryland who has written a book on the politics of immigration. “Restrictionists on the right were always against the bill because they opposed any legalization for illegal immigrants.

“Business groups and their allies, including advocates for immigrant rights, lost much of their ardor for the bill because of changes made in the legislative process.”

That vote might have been the telling blow for the measure. Lawmakers, officials and activists engaged in creating and — at least for the moment — unraveling the bill say it was undone for complex and interrelated reasons.

The leaderships of both parties kept their distance from the start. Mr. Reid, Democrat of Nevada, was ambivalent about the policy and political merits of the approach. Mr. McConnell, his counterpart, found himself caught among diehard Republican opponents, lawmakers open to persuasion and a president eager for a victory.

President Bush found himself at odds with many in his own party. And there was little appetite in the House for the bills among Democrats or Republicans, hence adding little pressure on the Senate to produce.

The creation of the bill, too, was highly unorthodox. Even participants in the private negotiations that led to the so-called grand bargain say their very approach created problems, producing contentious legislation embraced by the participants but met with skepticism by other lawmakers, the public and groups like organized labor and conservative research organizations. “The chance to create meaningful immigration reform legislation was lost the moment the bill emerged from its closed-door meeting with an immediate path to amnesty for anywhere from 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants,” Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, said in hailing the defeat of the bill.

“This agreement was reached between a handful of senators,” said Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, one of the Democrats who balked and voted against limiting debate. “That should not be considered a substitute for deliberation by the full Senate.”

As lawmakers began to contend with the collapse of the bill, the effort to distribute blame picked up where the debate left off.

The office of Mr. Reid, who had emphatically sought to hold Republicans accountable for sabotaging a presidential priority, distributed a document titled “Republicans Brought Down the Immigration Bill.”

It listed news reports and Republican statements that put the onus on the president’s party. “Last night, Republicans torpedoed comprehensive immigration reform,” the statement said.

Republicans fired back, saying Mr. Reid never embraced the bill and had, rather skillfully in some people’s opinion, set up Republicans to take the fall.

Republican officials insisted that they could have reached an accord within days on a limited number of about 12 amendments if Mr. Reid had given them more time.

They said the argument that the Senate had more pressing business was refuted by the fact that the chamber was not in session on Friday and was scheduled to vote on Monday on a nonbinding resolution of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

“Harry Reid was not willing to let this thing run its course,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.

Members of the bipartisan coalition that wrote the measure promised that they would continue to press their case and would urge Mr. Reid to return to the debate at some point, perhaps as quickly as next week.

“When it is recognized by the American people that the Senate has not acted, I believe there’s going to be a wave of support for what we’ve been trying to do,” said Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, another author of the plan.

President Bush, who will meet Republican senators at the Capitol for their weekly Tuesday luncheon in an appearance scheduled before the bill stalled, used his radio address to “urge Senator Reid to act quickly to bring this bill back to the Senate floor for a vote, and I urge Senators from both parties to support it.”

He called Senate Republican leaders on Friday from Air Force One while traveling in Europe to discuss the bill.

Senior Senate officials and lawmakers said they believed that the bill had less than a 50-50 chance of being resurrected and that there was already talk about considering separately some of the more popular provisions like allowing agricultural workers and education aid for certain immigrant children. “The White House has so far failed to rally Senate Republicans behind tough, fair and practical immigration reform,” Mr. Reid said in a statement Friday. “I will bring the immigration bill back to the Senate floor as soon as enough Republicans are ready to join us in moving forward on a bill to fix our broken immigration system.”

Throughout the course of the proceedings, the majority leader was lukewarm. As the floor debate opened two weeks ago, Mr. Reid delivered a tepid endorsement, though few senators were present as he cataloged his concerns.

“The bill impacts families in a number of ways that I believe are unwise,” Mr. Reid said. Requiring guest workers to go back and forth to their home countries every few years was “impractical both for the workers and for the American employers who need a stable, reliable work force,” he said. He also feared that the bill would create “a permanent underclass of people who are here to work in low-wage, low-skill jobs but do not have a chance to put down roots.”

Yet, Mr. Reid let the measure proceed. He urged the bipartisan coalition to smooth over disagreements quickly. He did not want the bill to linger beyond week’s end.

In the hours leading up to the collapse, Mr. Reid looked weary, with dark circles surrounding his eyes. As he walked back to the Senate floor at 4:30, his voice carried barely a trace of optimism. “We’ve done more than our share,” he said, pausing for a moment. “We’ve sent all the signals we can to get the president to help. It’s his bill.”

It was that mindset that helped contribute to the failure, aides who have been enmeshed in the bill for months said in interviews.

Some proponents began to worry on Tuesday, when Mr. Reid sought to end the debate and move to a final vote. That action took Mr. Kennedy and others by surprise, Senate aides said. On Wednesday, Mr. Kennedy confronted Mr. Reid.

For the bill to succeed, Mr. Kennedy argued, making major changes to immigration laws could not be expedited. Already, opponents of the measure had done a better job of defining the bill, and proponents said more time was needed to explain it, particularly the parts on border security.

Mr. McConnell had his hands full, as well. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 3 Republican, was an architect of the compromise. Others, like Mr. Cornyn, were critical but professed willingness to consider the measure if it were revised. Some, like Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Jim DeMint of South Carolina, saw little hope of repairing the plan. Mr. DeMint even objected to Republican amendments on Thursday on the floor.

As those lawmakers and a handful of others clustered in Mr. McConnell’s rooms, they were unable to resolve the demands of the chief opponents for votes on their amendments.

As the meeting stretched on, party aides shot updates to Democratic members of the immigration coalition via BlackBerry devices. Officials said Mr. Reid also called Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, to encourage him to come up with a finite list of amendments.

“We kept asking them to give us a set number of amendments and a deadline to finish and they would never do it,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

Although they rarely publicly voiced their opposition, the muscle of organized labor worked vigorously behind the scenes to defeat the measure. A key concern was the guest worker program.

Although dozens of amendments from senators were never called, Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, had three chances to offer amendments to eliminate or set an end date on guest workers, because the leadership wanted to balance the scales after the Republicans had won major changes.

The proposal to end the guest worker program after five years passed just after midnight on Thursday morning.

Criticism from high-tech figures stunned authors of the bill who had set out to help companies recruit top scientists, engineers and mathematicians. E. John Krumholtz, director of federal affairs at Microsoft, said senators “really wanted to help us” find skilled foreign professionals.

Mr. Krumholtz said the agreement was “worse than the status quo, and the status quo is a disaster.”

The outcome left many lawmakers frustrated. Mr. Kyl noted that senators mingled on the floor for more than an hour after the decision, “because there seemed to be a sense that it couldn’t end with that vote.”

Gayle in MD
06-11-2007, 07:30 AM
This account is based on interviews with senators, administration officials and others who spent much of the week in the Capitol as the Senate debated the bill.
<hr /></blockquote>

I'm wondering why the authors didn't name them? And also, where did this article appear?

I'm one of the nutty (?) % who believe in deportation, and law enforcement, with extremely heavy fines, and imprisonment for any employers who hire illegal law breakers to do the work Americans could do, at decent wages.

Once again, we can see the work of the greedy Corporate Fascists Pigs who are those most advantaged by cheap labor of criminals, who illegally occupy our country by breaking the law. Why in the world would any American want another Amnesty Program, when we can all see the damage of Reagan's decision to ignore our laws, so clearly?


Gayle in Md.

06-12-2007, 06:33 PM
Gee Gayle, an excellent question to ask Senator Ted "splash" Kennedy.

06-12-2007, 07:00 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Gayle in MD:</font><hr> Why in the world would any American want another Amnesty Program, when we can all see the damage of Reagan's decision to ignore our laws, so clearly?


Gayle in Md. <hr /></blockquote>

The only ones who want it are the illegal alien invaders, and the politicians who think it will buy them votes to keep them in office.
And just for the record, the amnesty bill that passed when RR was in office also had Teddy the Fish's fingerprints all over it. He has been a supporter of Amnesty for YEARS! Kinda makes me wonder just how bright the people from the most liberal state in the country really are, when they keep re-electing this idiot.

06-12-2007, 07:28 PM
Immigration is much to do about nothing,until they have a viable plan,that that allows people to come into the Country,do farm work,and return to their country of origin,with no path to citizenship. Give the illegal immigrants here,six months to register,with such a program,for farm work only,and fine employers,such as Wal-Mart,Paulte Homes,and other large non agricultural companies,fifty thousand dollars per illegal working for them. I'm having some construction done on my house,and the two guys that deliver cement,and sand,were telling me they were heading for the States. "Isn't it getting harder to cross the border," I asked them. They just laughed,and said "everyone is going,we have jobs waiting there.Pay the price,and you are in". I don't know where they are going to work,but they do,and we should be going after the employers big time.

Gayle in MD
06-12-2007, 08:09 PM
Tap Tap Tap. Absolutely!

Gayle in Md.

Gayle in MD
06-12-2007, 08:31 PM
Have you ever checked the votes on Reagan's amnesty program?

Gayle in Md.

06-12-2007, 09:41 PM
It's from a Republican (gasp!) but you should agree with this:


Gayle in MD
06-13-2007, 07:38 AM
Reggie, I agree, and think that our present immigration laws should have been abided by over these last four decades, by all of our Representatives. I just think that the right, often fails to address the back scratching that has gone on between the Republican Party, and the corporate, and religious fascists in our country. That is not to say that some Democrats are not involved, or that both parties are not responsible, in some ways. But, none of the right seems to want to address that fact that Reagans policies led directly to this onslaught of illegals, in the first place, preferring to blame Democrats like Kennedy, for the whole mess. This, IMO, is dishonest, and completely partisan, IMO. Now, bush intends to further the very same solution, which led to the massive influx of illegals in the first place. Are Republicans Presidents ever responsible for thier own policies, in the eyse of the right? The right may not like the solutions offered by Democrats, but when do you ever hear them own up to just whom it was who made a bad situation, much worse?

It's long past time for law abiding, tax paying citizens, to take to the streets, against the illegal occupation of our country, and the dire circumstances of our troops, instead of labeling all those who show up to protest these critical issues as being treasonist, Godless Liberals, and worse.

Just look at the title of this thread, and tell me if any of our posters on the right, have ever referred to the Reagan Policy which was at the heart of the results in which we now find ourselves?

Gayle in Md.

Gayle in Md.

06-13-2007, 03:00 PM
Kennedy Plea Was Last Gasp for Immigration Bill <hr /></blockquote> It is a shame that Kennedy has put more effort in saving illegal aliens than he did for Mary Jo.