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Pro-Amnesty Senators Backers Vow Unity, Rejection of “Deal Breakers”

Remember when then-Senator Barack Obama promised health care deliberations would take place in front of the C-SPAN cameras?

Well, the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill is Obamacare-esque legislation that was crafted behind closed doors.  As a result, it is very difficult for the American people to really have a grasp of what the bill contains and who requested what provisions.  During the committee markup, many Senators were more concerned with getting a bill passed just for the sake of getting something done than for the sake of enacting good policy.

A number of Senators expressed the desire to avoid any amendment to the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill that would jeopardize its chances of being passed.   (The hearings and business meetings from the month of May can be found here.)

They were not really concerned with the merits of the amendments.   Some of the amendments offered would have made the bill worse, while others may have improved the bill.  But the fundamental point is that opposition to the amendments was driven by the belief that they could jeopardize the “compromise” that the Senate had already come to.

On May 9, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said:

I’m going to vote against the amendment because I don’t think we want to slow this thing down. It’s going to be hard enough.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said:

I’m in a position which I’m being informed that this would be a deal breaker to the deal. I frankly don’t see how that could be the case but I’m not privy to that understanding.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) said:

I’m going to vote no but I’d be happy to work with Senator Grassley on this as we go forward but I don’t wanted to be a deal breaker.

In reference to another amendment on May 16, Franken added:

Senator Schumer has told me that this amendment would be a deal breaker. I do not want to break this deal.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said:

And to have a trigger in the ninth year could have been, as Senator Franken mentioned, a deal breaker because it could have stopped people on the path to citizenship.

During the May 21 hearing Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) stated:

There were a lot of gives on that side of the table. And I want to thank my colleague, Senator Flake and Senator Graham, time and again, who stood by the agreement when it wasn’t easy politically. I feel duty-bound to do the same thing at this moment.

And I will just tell Senator Hirono that your heart is in the right place, your amendment is in the wrong place. We can’t put it on this bill. I’ll help you in any other way I can to achieve your goal because I think it’s a worthy one.

This is just a sampling of the type of dialogue that took place during the markup.  Just because a so-called “compromise” had been reached (behind closed doors no less), these Senators gave short shrift to the deliberative process.

Will they make the same mistake now that the bill is being debated on the floor?

If Sen. Harry Reid has it way, it seems that will be the case.  He has already asserted:

If people have suggestions like they did in the Judiciary Committee to change the bill a little bit, I’ll be happy to take a look at that. But we’re not going to have big changes.

Of course, Sen. Feinstein harkened back to the last failed immigration reform attempt of 2007.  She recalled:

I was on the last gang many years ago with Senator Kennedy, and the world should know he is absolutely consistent. This is where he was then. That was the formulation of what was called the Grand Bargain Man.

I think it’s been a unique process because those people who are members of a group that put this together have stood together and have voted against amendments that they felt would be a violation of the bipartisan agreement that brought both sides together.

My hope is that bipartisan agreement is enough so that what happened on the floor with this bill, in the last time we tried it, doesn’t happen again. And I trust that that will be the case.

There you have it.  She acknowledges that today’s amnesty bill is much like the amnesty bill that failed to become law in 2007.  As Heritage has noted, repeating the mistakes of the past when composing legislation won’t help anyone.  Neither will passing legislation just for the sake of passing it.

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