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The big news of Thursday seems to be the Corker-Hoeven amendment. This amendment was announced late Wednesday night and dominated much of the headlines on Thursday. (Mickey Kaus provides an evolving analysis of this amendment here.)
A big challenge in talking about Corker-Hoeven is that the legislative text is still being drafted. We have no clue what enforcement provisions will be watered down and what loopholes will be inserted. For example, on Wednesday night, amendment sponsors were saying that the amendment had a "hard trigger" to ensure some level of enforcement effectiveness before newly legalized immigrants could proceed on the "path to citizenship." By Thursday afternoon, that trigger was gone. One thing that won't change for the amendment: legalization will always come before any enforcement targets.
Some might wonder whether the findings of the CBO report that S. 744 will not cause a huge reduction in illegal immigration started a panic among the Gang. That report yanked away what cover Republicans and Democrats who ran on enforcement had to support the bill. This new amendment could be used by S. 744 supporters to argue that the CBO calculation was outdated. (However, CBO suggested that S. 744's colossal new guest-worker programs could be a source for future illegal immigration, as workers overstayed their visas. Does even a quintupling of border patrol agents combat that risk? Will Corker-Hoeven?) The Gang rushed to get this amendment in the public debate even before its legislative language was finalized. Was that rush partially caused by panic? (PS: Consider what Sen. Corker had to say about "amnesty" back in 2007...)
John Hinderaker posts an interesting claim he got from a trusted source a copule weeks ago:
It’s a trap. They are going to Toomey-Manchin this thing: Announce a big compromise right before the vote, give no one any time to read it, and scare GOP moderates into voting for it.Is that happening now? Hinderaker thinks it is. Is this another case of having to pass the bill so that we can find out what's in it?
REACTIONS: Senator Schumer sounds very happy about the amendment, and some Republicans seem convinced by press reports about it, but others aren't so swayed...FAIR: "The Corker-Hoeven amendment simply puts some very expensive lipstick on a pig. S.744 will deliver amnesty to the people who broke our laws, it will deliver huge increases in foreign labor for business interests, but it will do nothing to protect the interests and security of the American people."....Senator Cornyn is shocked and amazed....Ace remains very unimpressed...Peter Kirsanow: "Regardless of where you stand on immigration reform, the endless and multiplying efforts of our elected representatives to hoodwink the American people should infuriate you".....Mark Krikorian: "The Corker-Hoeven amendment is a sham, pure simple. Anyone who votes for it is announcing that he thinks the American people are gullible fools."
GETTING TOWARD CLOTURE: Ted Cruz has started to fight strongly against S. 744, sponsoring a petition against it....Orrin Hatch still hopes to support S. 744...An interesting whip list for votes on S. 744 is here...
THE WORKING CLASS: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is assumed by some to be a guaranteed "yes" for S. 744. Yet Sanders has a long-standing opposition to guest-worker programs. As he said the other day, "I do not support a huge expansion in the guest worker program that will allow hundreds of thousands of entry-level guest workers to come into this country." Well, that's exactly what S. 744 does, and so far no amendments have been passed stripping the guest-worker provisions from the bill. I've been told by a source that Sanders is still waiting to see how the final bill looks before deciding whether to support it or not. Will Senator Sanders stand up for his principles in the days ahead and really fight to get rid of the guest-worker program? Will he support a bill that has such a plan in it? (PS: Sessions argued on Thursday that S. 744 will "accelerate the decline" of the working class.)
ON THE FLOOR: One vote on Thursday: Cornyn's RESULTS amendment was tabled 54-43. Pryor and Manchin were only Democrats in favor of this amendment. Rubio split from the Gang of Eight to support it; perhaps he got a pass from Schumer on this amendment, Andrew Stiles suggests.
FOR FRIDAY: Look for the text of Corker-Hoeven. Some more thoughts from Sessions's office on Reid's possible strategy in the days ahead:
“Reid could systematically table all the remaining amendments that are pending, holding votes to table one at a time,” background provided by Sen. Sessions’ staff reads. “Then he could call up Corker-Hoeven. After debating the amendment, he could file cloture on it to end debate. He could also block debate and immediately file cloture. Then, a vote would be taken on the amendment. After Corker-Hoeven passed, Reid could ‘fill the tree,’ which is a power he has to block consideration of any amendments (and one he’s used far more than his predecessor, Bill Frist). Reid could then file cloture on S. 744 as amended by Corker-Hoeven. Then, a vote on final passage would occur. So the bill, in its current form with the exception of the addition of Corker-Hoeven, could be passed (if it had the votes) without any further opportunity given to senators to alter/improve it—by early next week, even."Time will tell!
(Link to this issue here.)