A group of 14 Republicans senators is urging Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and members of the Gang of Eight not to proceed with “a full shutdown of amendment votes” on the immigration reform bill.
The Senate is scheduled to vote this afternoon to end debate on the Corker-Hoeven amendment – essentially a revised version of the full, 1,200-page bill – setting up a potential vote on final passage later this week. Some Republicans aren’t happy about that, and in a letter to Reid on Monday suggested that they may withhold their consent to advance the bill unless more votes are allowed.
The letter was signed by: Senators David Vitter (La.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Boozman (Ark.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), John Thune (S.D.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), and Deb Fischer (Neb.).
Despite “repeated promises of a full and open amendment process,” the senators wrote, there have only been nine roll-call votes on amendments to the immigration bill. By comparison, there were 46 such votes on amendments to the (failed) 2007 immigration reform bill. The Senators suggested there should be at least as many votes on amendments to the current proposal, which “can clearly be accomplished this week with a little leadership and coordination.”
As things currently stand, however, Reid has the ability to block votes on further amendments, and to move to final passage following the vote on Corker-Hoeven. “This is deeply, deeply disturbing,” the senators wrote. “It is effectively shutting down the American people’s ability to be heard on this issue through their elected representatives.”
The Corker-Hoeven amendment, they point out, has “turned into a virtual full substitute for the bill.” Proponents have been “collecting yes votes as the price of admission into that back negotiating room.” Indeed, a number of the amendments tacked onto the legislation in recent days are reminiscent of the kickbacks used to win support for Obamacare in 2010.