Friday, June 15, 2007

Grand Bargainers Revive Bush-Kennedy Amnesty Legislation!!!Call Your Senators To Object!

Once again, the Senate's "Grand Bargainers" have gone behind closed doors and struck a deal to shove a massive guest worker amnesty bill down the throats of the American people-despite their overwhelming opposition. Thursday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the Bush-Kennedy bill would be brought back to the Senate floor next week. Unlike the well-publicized press conference that unveiled the "grand bargain" back in May, last night's announcement was made by the leaders in a brief joint statement: "We met this evening with several of the senators involved in the immigration bill negotiations. Based on that discussion, the immigration bill will return to the Senate floor after completion of the energy bill."
The revival of the Bush-Kennedy amnesty bill was not a surprise to political observers, as Senate staffers had warned that the bill's proponents were engaged in urgent back room negotiations to develop a finite list of amendments. An agreement on amendments was demanded by Majority Leader Harry Reid as a condition of bringing the bill back to the floor to ensure that the bill was not filibustered with endless debate. Late Wednesday and early Thursday, word leaked out that a list of 20-22 amendments had been agreed upon-approximately half authored by Republicans and half authored by Democrats.
Then, Thursday afternoon, President Bush gave a speech to the Associated Builders and Contractors at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C., where he announced that he would support immediate funding for certain border security measures found in the trigger provision of Section 1. That funding will be added by a newly-drafted amendment authored by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) that would essentially borrow $4.4 billion dollars from the government's general fund to immediately spend on the trigger. The money would then be repaid through the fine and fee money generated by the amnesty program in Title VI of the bill. Smiling to the audience, the President declared, "We're going to show the American people that the promises in this bill will be kept."
Interestingly, however, the President (who by the way attended the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast this morning with Senators Kennedy and Martinez) did not explain to his big business friends his sudden enthusiasm for funding border security measures. He did not explain why he has not shown such dedication during the last six years of his presidency to enforcing our immigration laws. Nor did he mention that the language of the bill already requires the fees and fines from the amnesty program to pay for carrying out the provisions of the bill. Thus, the $4.4 billion he is promising is not new money.
What is new, however, is that the money is being fronted by the taxpayers to pay for the trigger provisions of the bill. While that is in theory a good thing, all the money in the world won't fix the problem of an arrogant Administration that refuses to enforce the law. For example, before the elections last fall, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and appropriated $1.2 billion dollars to build the 700 miles of fencing mandated by it. Almost one year later, the Administration has only 11 miles of fence to show for it.
Members of Congress were quick to react to the President's new promises. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) responded, "I appreciate the effort to fund border security, but there's simply no reason why we should be forced to tie amnesty to it," (Washington Post). Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, said, "Only in Washington would people believe that throwing money at the problem is going to solve it….This is a blatant attempt by senators to extort votes so they can fast-track an amnesty plan," (Washington Post). Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said, "The idea that we will have border security only if it's paid for by illegal immigrants is unacceptable," (New York Times).
Indeed, the New York Times reports that Senators are feeling the pressure from the critics of the bill. Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS), who supports the bill, said that, Senate Republican leaders may try to rein in "younger guys who are huffing and puffing against the bill."
Please do not let Senate Leadership — Republican or Democratic — cram this guest worker amnesty bill down the throats of the American people. When the bill comes back to the floor, there will be two critical votes. The first critical vote will be a cloture vote on the motion to proceed. Generally speaking, this is equivalent to a vote on whether the Senate can proceed on the bill. If this motion fails, the Senate cannot take up the bill again. If this motion passes, the Senate will take up the bill and debate amendments. Then (probably after a day or two) there will be a second critical vote, which will be a cloture vote to end debate on the bill. If this vote fails, the Senate cannot conclude debate on the bill and will not be able to move to a vote on final passage.
FAIR is urging all members, activists, and friends to call their Senators and urge them to vote NO ON BOTH CLOTURE VOTES. Please tell them that A VOTE FOR CLOTURE IS A VOTE FOR AMNESTY!!!!! Please let your Senators know that the American people want the enforcement of our laws-not guest worker programs and not amnesty. If you can, please visit the district offices of your Senators and Representatives and tell them the same in person or leave a hand-written note, so they know that the message is coming from a real constituent, not a special-interest group.
It has been the overwhelming response from constituents like you that made the difference on the Senate floor last week. WE NEED YOU TO REDOUBLE YOUR EFFORTS!!!
To find the phone numbers of your Senators, click here.