GOP dissenters contribute to immigration deal’s collapse

Senators pledged to resurrect the immigration compromise and engaged in finger-pointing Friday over who was to blame for the bill's sudden demise.

After the Senate rejected cloture Thursday night, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he has no intention of bringing it back before next week's debate on an energy bill and a no-confidence vote for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Republican negotiators expressed frustration with a group of conservative "dissenters" who failed to come up with a finite list of amendments that would bring the debate to a close.

"If they don't come up with a list, and you go on to energy and Gonzales, then the trail gets a little cold," said Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter, R-Pa., one of the negotiators. Reid said the dissenters would never cooperate in bringing the debate to a close. "They're crying wolf. This is what they've been saying for days: 'The list, we'll give it to you tomorrow.' There's no list," he said.

A leadership aide said Reid was prepared to move forward with a lengthy list of germane amendments, but he was frustrated by objections from Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. A GOP aide said Reid's desire to take up the partisan attorney general matter after the bipartisan immigration debate poisoned the well for many Republicans who wanted a final vote on the immigration bill.

"Reid wanted to yank this thing," the aide said. Reid has scheduled a vote on Gonzales for Monday afternoon.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Jon Kyl of Arizona said Friday the debate was cut off prematurely. "Leaders don't simply say, 'I've had it. Our members are not behaving responsibly, we're moving on to some other piece of business,' if you have something before you that is historic in its importance."

Kyl was the only member of the core negotiators who reached the "grand bargain" on immigration to vote against Reid's cloture motion. He said that vote was one of the toughest of his career, reflecting his competing roles as a grand bargainer and third ranking Republican.

After the vote Thursday, Kyl said he had agreed to go along with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., to protect the minority's rights on amendments. "I very much do want to bring this to a close," he said. "And it's so frustrating to me because it didn't have to be this way. We could've so easily, if we had just planned a little better, communicated a little better, gotten the amendments out, and been done with it."

Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., declined to elaborate on Reid's reasons for insisting on a floor vote after McConnell asked to push the cloture vote to Friday. "It was complicated because of the circumstances that we were facing yesterday afternoon," he said Friday. "I personally believe that if we had taken more time, we would have had an opportunity for reaching a conclusion. What's important is what the leadership said last night, that we're coming back and that we're going to take the time to sift through these amendments."

A Kennedy aide said lawmakers are negotiating to pair Republicans amendments with Democratic ones should the bill resurface. The amendment strategy also includes an overall "manager's amendment" with language proposed by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., on H-1B visas and employer-based green cards as well as changes to two amendments adopted by the Senate on guestworkers and confidentiality rights for illegal immigrants.

In the House, aides said Friday that the game plan for an immigration debate is undecided. With a Senate-passed bill, the House strategy had been to pass a bill by August. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "has said all along that the Senate must act first on comprehensive immigration reform," an aide said.

An aide for House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said that without a Senate bill, it is much harder to force the issue in the House.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.