Open thread: Final Senate vote on Gang of Eight bill set for 4 p.m. ET; Update: Bill passes, 68/32

posted at 3:21 pm on June 27, 2013 by Allahpundit

The final cloture vote was held this morning and passed with 68 yeses, two shy of Schumer’s goal at the start of this process. After three days of pleading with fencesitters and, no doubt, tempting them with earmarks and other legislative kickbacks to bring them on board, they still couldn’t get to 70. The 14 Republicans who voted yes this morning:

I’m laying that down as a marker in case any of them votes no this afternoon in a cheap attempt to convince their constituents that they’re actually against the bill. As for why the Gang didn’t get to 70, why would they at this point? Fencesitters are facing a rising tide of grassroots pressure plus the unwelcome fact that both Boehner and Paul Ryan have insisted the Senate bill won’t even get a vote in the House. (House deputy whip Peter Roskam called it “a pipe dream.”) The whole point of having 70 yeses in the Senate was, in theory, to put pressure on the House to act, but the backlash to Rubio and the bill among conservative media and activists has eliminated that. If you’re Rob Portman, say, what do you gain at this point by voting for a bill that won’t be enacted and that may earn you bitter opposition in a primary? Not to keep picking on Rubio, but this really does boil down to his inability, despite his best attempts, to sell the bill to the right. Even if he couldn’t persuade them to support it, it would have been a huge win for pro-amnesty Republicans if he had managed to temper the intensity of the opposition. That might have gotten the Senate closer to 80 yeses, notwithstanding the bill’s fate in the House, which would have helped the GOP leadership with its PR efforts towards Latino voters. As it is, only a minority of the caucus is supporting it. I don’t blame Rubio for failing at what was probably an impossible task, but he did fail.

By the way, don’t look now but the bill is starting to sound creaky among liberals too. The NYT has a piece out this morning about lefties grumbling that the weak Corker/Hoeven border-security provisions (see this account of Hugh Hewitt’s brutal interview with Hoeven to understand how weak) are nonetheless too strong for their liking. Meanwhile, at TNR, T.A. Frank makes the Kaus-ian case that the bill will be a disaster for the working class:

All in all, I became convinced that high levels of low-skill immigration are good for wealthy Americans and bad for poor Americans. Far more important, high levels of illegal immigration—when you start to get into the millions, as we have—undermines unions and labor standards, lowers wages, heightens social tensions, strains state budgets, widens income inequality, subverts the rule of law, and exacerbates class divides. The effects go far beyond wages, because few undocumented workers earn enough to cover anything close to the cost of government services (such as education for their children) they require, and those services are most important to low-income Americans. In short, it’s an immense blow to America’s working class and poor.

Most labor unions support the current legislation, of course, but few of them seem to acknowledge the possibility of a mass influx of a future illegal workforce. In part, that’s because the SEIU and many other unions have thousands of undocumented members, and raising a fuss about enforcement or opposing the current bill would alienate their own members. It’s probably also that they believe, unrealistically, that the bill would be effective at controlling the border in the future.

And a lot of Democrats have also convinced themselves that even if there’s a wage loss to low-skilled workers, the massive new voting bloc of mostly left-leaning immigrants will ultimately help the little guy. But if millions of new Democratic voters oppose strict immigration control, then there will no Democratic support for meaningful immigration control. And generous social benefits cannot coexist with an open border. (Nor can a more egalitarian society.)

One of the things that helped kill McCain’s last amnesty effort a few years ago was this same objection being championed by Democrats like Byron Dorgan. If House Democrats start to peel off because of it on top of the fact that some will peel off in objection to the border measures proposed by the GOP House majority, then reform is almost certainly dead.

While we wait for the vote, enjoy Patty Murray admitting that she doesn’t know precisely how many DUIs an illegal would be allowed to rack up before he’s disqualified from amnesty under the Gang of Eight bill. A few days ago, no fewer than five Democrats in favor of the bill admitted they weren’t sure if it creates an incentive under ObamaCare for employers to hire illegals over citizens. Has anyone in the Senate thought about this bill in any detail at all? Should we maybe have held some hearings and delayed the cloture vote before rushing this travesty over to the House?

Update: I mentioned a few days ago about how grumpy McCain had gotten with Deb Fischer over her opposition to the bill, but I didn’t see the video until last night. Here you go. Apparently, if you haven’t physically visited the border recently, your concerns about the Gang’s security provisions are stupid.

Update: Tim Mak asks a good question. Isn’t Republican leadership supposed to be, at a minimum, agnostic about the Gang’s bill as part of their outreach to Latinos? Here’s NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring:

“It’s just another sign that even vulnerable [pro-amnesty] Democrats like Landrieu, Begich, Hagan and Pryor are more loyal to Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama than they are to middle-class men and women struggling in their home states.”

The problem: What about Republicans supporting the immigration bill? Couldn’t that same criticism — that a yes vote demonstrates an allegiance to national party leaders over constituents — be extended to GOP senators who support ongoing immigration reform efforts, especially in states where public opinion is mixed on the issue?

Schumer’s been know to refer to pro-amnesty GOP senators as “our Republicans.” I understand that politics is a cynical game, but bashing red-state Democrats for selling out on the border while backslapping the Rubios of the world for their outreach is really something. How do you reconcile them? Quote:

Republican strategists say their party needs to improve its performance among Hispanic voters, the fastest growing major electoral bloc, to remain competitive in future elections.

But they view Hispanic voters as more important in the 2016 presidential election than the 2014 midterm elections, which will have lower turnout.

So the party stays officially anti-amnesty for three more years, then makes a hard pro-amnesty pivot for the presidential campaign? I can’t imagine that backfiring with anyone, except for … everyone.

Update: The deed is done: 68 yes votes, same as in this morning’s cloture vote. No roll yet but I see on Twitter that 14 Republicans voted yes, the same number that voted yes this morning. Presumably it’s the same 14. It’s a small relief that none of the Republicans in favor stooped to ye olde yes-on-cloture-no-on-the-final-bill game. And in the end, they still couldn’t get to 70.

Here’s something lofty to carry you into the evening from the Republican Party’s new best friend:

“In choosing this country, whether it’s my friend Marco Rubio’s parents from Cuba or my parents and great-grandparents who fled persecution from Europe, immigrants bring an appreciation for the choices and opportunities that are unique to America,” Schumer said. “Immigrants have been an essential component to our American success story. To reject this basic truth in this vote today would be a direct rebuke to the lady who shines so brightly in New York’s harbor.”

Update: Actually, let me leave you with this instead. Oof.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air