The Senate will vote this afternoon to end debate on the latest version of the Gang of Eight’s immigration-reform bill, which now runs more than 1,200 pages. That includes the Corker-Hoeven border-security amendment, along with a laundry list of other amendments that have been tacked on to the original bill in the last few days. Senators will have had a little over 72 hours to read the amended text before casting their votes.
Several of the amendments added to the Gang of Eight bill bring to mind the special carve-outs thrown in to help push Obamacare across the legislative finish line in 2010 (the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, and so on). For example:
The Collins Cash-Out
The revised bill includes an amendment from Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) that eliminates a requirement that at least 90 percent of funding for a new program to increase law-enforcement preparedness along U.S. borders be devoted to the southwest border region. Without the requirement, northern states will be eligible to receive more of those funds. Senator Jon Tester (D., Mont.) cosponsored the amendment.
The Alaska Purchase
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R.) and Mark Begich (D.) won a special carve-out for Alaska’s seafood-processing industry, which is referenced specifically in the amended legislation. For reasons that are not explained, the bill now stipulates that certain low-skilled jobs — specifically, ”seafood processing positions in Alaska” — are to be classified as ”shortage occupations,” which will make it easier for the industry to bring in cheap labor in the form of low-skilled and temporary workers. Alaska is the only state to receive special treatment along these lines.
The Socialist’s Slush Fund
Avowed socialist Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) has argued, as he and other liberal lawmakers did in 2007, that increasing the flow of low-skilled immigrants and temporary workers, which the current bill calls for, is unwise during a time of such high unemployment, particularly among the young and less educated. The revised version of the bill includes an amendment from Sanders to provide $1.5 billion in federal grants to state and local governments intended to fund job opportunities for (in Sanders’s words) 16- to 24-year-olds “who were hard hit by the Wall Street-caused recession.” The amendment is similar to a provision in President Obama’s much-touted jobs plan, the American Jobs Act.