Drafted in secret, sold through racial demagoguery, and soon, perhaps, passed with the help of a Senate procedure that no previous majority leader has had the shame to use.
A fitting conclusion, if true. Open wide:
[W]e expect Reid – with the help and support of certain Republican leadership and the Grand Bargainers – to do something that we believe has never been done in the history of the Senate… he will use an arcane Senate procedure that allows a single amendment to be divisible into many – in this case, into the 20-odd amendments the Grand Bargainers are trying to cobble together to keep 60 votes in support of the bill. Traditionally, that amendment has been used to protect minority rights – but in this case, it will be used to PREVENT the minority from getting additional amendments called up and from being able to fully debate the amendments in question. It is, to our knowledge, unprecedented…
If Reid does this, with the help of certain Republican leadership and the Grand Bargainers, they will shut off the ability of Senators with concerns of the bill to offer additional amendments and to debate the amendments in question.
In the end, this means that if they have 60 lined up to support it – there is little that can be done procedurally – so it has become far more important than ever for Senators to hear from their constituents.
Mainstream congressional procedural rules are hard enough to follow, let alone some novel maneuver, but if I understand him correctly what they’re going to do is set aside two dozen or so slots beforehand for dissenting amendments — and then summarily fill those slots themselves by splitting their own grandly bargained omnibus amendment (the one with the $4.4 billion outlay for border security) into two dozen separate amendments, thereby leaving no room for Sessions, DeMint, Dorgan et al. to offer their own.
Rumor had it that Reid himself is against the bill — but if so, why do this? Is Kaus right when he speculates that they’re aiming to send it to the House in hopes that Sir Tancelot will slay the beast? That would give Reid the best of both worlds: a dead bill plus political cover to tell Hispanics, “Hey, I tried.”
Update: Jack M. elaborates. It’s not that there are a finite number of slots for amendments, he says — it’s that there’s a finite amount of time for debate (i.e., 30 hours) and splitting the grandly bargained amendment into two dozen separate items ensures that those amendments will consume most, if not all, of those 30 hours, thereby shutting out the Sessions/Dorgan dissenters.