After Sweetheart Deals, Senators to Vote on Amnesty Before Reading (UPDATE)
“…a couple sweetheart deals to get it over the finish line…”
That was Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Christmas Eve 2009, when the Senate passed its version of Obamacare. Three-and-a-half years later, the same thing can be said about the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill after it was rewritten last week. In defiance of the obvious, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) released a statement late Sunday trying to explain why Senators, staff and Americans were given just 75 hours to decipher a 1,190-page substitute amendment:
“I’ve seen reports of a ‘1,200 page bill’ no one has read or had time to read. To be clear, the tough border and interior enforcement provisions that Sen. Hoeven and I offered on Friday make up 119 pages added to the 1,100 pages that have been public since May.”
To be clear, this amendment isn’t a game changer. And even with a cursory glance, it is clear that in addition to being reordered, those 1,100 pages were significantly altered. For example, some of the sweetheart deals include:
- Lobster Bait (Maine): moves resources from southern border to northern border (Heritage Action)
- Alaska Kickback: special treatment for Alaskan seafood processing (Washington Examiner)
In addition to state-specific handouts, certain Senators won big in the rewrite:
- $1.5 billion in youth job training was critical to securing the vote of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Los Angeles Times)
- Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) hopped on after his amendment dealing with expedited citizenship for thos in combat was added into the package (Chicago Sun Times)
And other changes to the bill simply reflect the power of who was holding the pen during the rewrite:
- Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) had two of his three amendments, including one that waives fees for studios (Breitbart), wrapped into the rewrite, which he introduced as a matter of procedure (Leahy’s website)
- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is widely seen as the mastermind behind the Gang of Eight and the rewritten version, had nine of his 13 amendments incorporated into the newest version (Twitter)
There are almost certainly more examples of sweetheart deals littered throughout the 1,190-page rewrite of the Gang of Eight’s bill, but with a vote scheduled for 5:30 PM ET on Monday, there is little time to examine it all. It is very different from the “open and transparent process” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) promised.
UPDATE (06/24/13): An earlier version of this post implied a permanent extension of the Corporation for Travel Promotion (Casino Cronyism) was inserted into the rewrite. It was not; rather, this “government-run public relations campaign funded by a tax on international visitors” was inserted during the committee markup as part of the Border Security Title.