The Corker-Hoeven amendment to the Senate immigration bill isn’t just a 100+ page addition to S.744, which would be bad enough. The changes are sprinkled throughout the now-1,200 page bill, rendering it effectively a new piece of legislation. And yet this afternoon there’s a vote scheduled to end debate on this amendment, which was introduced late Friday. This allows only a few hours of debate on new provisions to spend billions on hiring 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents and re-mandating completion of border fencing and micromanaging how many night-vision goggles the El Paso Border Patrol Sector is supposed to have. (Not to mention the various earmarks in the bill, like the Salmon Sweetener or the Casino Crony Kickback, or the Montpelier Make-Work Program.)
What’s the rush?
Harry Reid wants to have the Senate approve the bill by the end of the week, when senators leave for the 4th of July recess. But given the complexity of the measure, the complete overhaul it underwent three days ago, and the purported popularity of “immigration reform” with the public, why wouldn’t senators demand a chance to sell it to their constituents next week when the senators are home? Wouldn’t that offer a chance to enhance the democratic legitimacy of the measure by holding town-hall meetings where criticisms could be aired and answered? Wouldn’t next week be an ideal time for Senate supporters of the bill to clarify for the folks back home what they see as misconceptions about the measure? Wouldn’t that afford an opportunity for senators to gauge the sentiments of their constituents at the various parades and fairs and other meetings they’ll be attending next week? After all, the public is only now focusing on the bill.
Or is the point to rush this through and present voters with a fait accompli, so that when senators face objections next week, they can quote one of their former colleagues: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Whatever your views on the merits of amnesty or increased immigration, if a measure can’t withstand public scrutiny, doesn’t that suggest there might be a problem with it?