Secret Amendment Takes Resources from Southern Border
On Monday at 5:30 PM ET, Senators will cast a crucial vote on a 1,190-page substitute amendment to the Gang of Eight’s amnesty plan. Given the intentional complexities of legislative language, there isn’t much time for Senators, staff or the public to read and digest the changes. For example, most probably don’t realize a tiny, 60-word amendment was incorporated into the rewritten plan that would take resources away from America’s southern border.
The amnesty bill that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee provided additional funding through Operation Stonegarden (a Homeland Security Grant Program established in 2003) to “enhance law enforcement preparedness and operational readiness along the borders.” The language specified that “Not less than 90 percent of the amounts made available…shall be allocated for grants and reimbursements to law enforcement agencies in the States in the Southwest border region…”
In the rewritten bill, that specific language is missing.
It appears Amendment 1255, introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on June 12, was incorporated into the rewrite. The amendment reads as follows:
On page 903, lines 5 through 12, strike “Not less than 90 percent of the amounts made available under section 6(a)(3)(C)(ii) shall be allocated for grants and reimbursements to law enforcement agencies in the States in the Southwest border region for personnel, overtime, travel, and other costs related to combating illegal immigration and drug smuggling in the Southwest border region.”. (emphasis added)
Collins, along with amendment co-sponsor Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), are acting parochially to ensure there is no restriction on how much of that additional funding can flow north, as opposed to south. Regardless of the merits of any of the aforementioned policies, this debate could have – and should have – happened on the Senate floor; instead, it happened behind closed doors.
Sadly, Collins’ words from March 2010 now ring hallow – “It is unfortunate that Democratic leaders have chosen to use procedures that will cut off debate and limit amendments to a bill that affects every single American and one-sixth of our nation’s economy” – as we can now add Lobster Bait to the growing list of state-based earmarks, which include Casino Cronyism and the Alaska Kickback.