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June 07, 2007

Killer Amendment, Full Story: Guest-Worker Sunset Amendment Puts Delicate Left-Right Compromise In Danger

Jeff Sessions is a crafty one.

Immigration bill inches forward

Senate amendment could jeopardize deal

By Karoun Demirjian
Washington Bureau
Published June 7, 2007

WASHINGTON — The Senate's approval of an amendment to review and possibly terminate a central feature of the fragile immigration bill in the wee hours of Thursday morning may have critically jeopardized the measure as it enters final days of consideration.

The third time proved to be the charm for Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who introduced a twice-revamped proposal to mandate a five-year review and potential termination of the temporary guest worker program that would allow immigrants to obtain special "Y-1" visas to work in the U.S. for three separate two-year intervals. Though earlier versions of the amendment had failed, the Senate voted 49-48 to keep it in after several senators changed their positions from previous votes on the issue.

The temporary guest worker program is a controversial but key feature of the compromise legislation for many of the bill's supporters, including President Bush.

...

"No one has the right to meet in secret with special-interest groups and write a bill and ram it down the throats of the United States Senate," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a critic of the bill who voted to kill the guest worker program. "I hope today people begin to see that a small group of senators … don't have the power to say we can't have an amendment and we can't change it."

..

[T]he core bipartisan coalition of 10 senators who drafted the compromise hung together as a body to oppose the Dorgan amendment, and through many other difficult votes, knowing that if some of the amendments offered by the bill's most vocal critics were approved, that could spell defeat for the overall measure.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ratcheted up the pressure for passage by announcing the Senate would vote Thursday on a motion to limit debate to 30 additional hours.

Reid presented the move as a challenge to senators, especially Republicans, who he said were trying to delay and debate the bill to death. Republicans cried foul, complaining that they had not had sufficient time to offer amendments.

Nice. If you can't make it better -- which of course the Democrats and McCain and Graham won't permit -- make it worse*, and make your fellow Republicans choke on it.

* Although actually I don't know if this makes it that much worse. I'm not really keen on this idea, favored by comfortably white-collar WSJ corporate types, that not only should there be no trade barriers on goods, there should also be no trade barriers on labor, and American citizens have no right to expect "special favoritism" over any of the world's teeming pool of potential workers, even in America itself.

Without a doubt, though, it reduces the bill's appeal for Republicans eager to flood America with cheap labor.

Correction: No tie-breaker from Cheney. I'm not sure where I got that from.


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posted by Ace at 02:38 AM

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