The Inside Story Of How The Senate Immigration Bill Died

A GOP aide, who’s one of my sources in the Senate, gave me the rundown on what happened to the Senate bill today.

After the cloture vote failure at noon on Thursday, Harry Reid could not get unanimous consent to call up amendments to the bill because Jim DeMint refused to give his consent. This was extremely problematic for Reid because he wanted to get in votes on 6 more amendments before the last try at a cloture vote.

At that point, all the senators who were participants in the “Grand Compromise” AKA the “Masters of the Universe” by the opponents of the bill, leaned on DeMint to try to get him to give consent for the bill to move forward. Unfortunately for them, DeMint wouldn’t budge. This essentially killed the entire afternoon that the pro-amnesty side hoped to use to shore up support for the bill.

While DeMint was gumming up the works, the opponents of the bill, including most prominently Jim DeMint, Jeff Sessions, and Tom Coburn, huddled and came up with a list of conservative amendments they wanted considered.

The “Grand Compromise” crowd didn’t want a lot of these amendments to be voted on because either some of the amendments would have been accepted and it would have killed the bill or alternately, they would have had to vote against common sense enforcement measures and made themselves look bad.

Eventually, after the process was tied up all afternoon and failed a 2nd cloture vote, Harry Reid yanked the bill even though the opponents of the bill said they were willing to stop gumming up the process as long as all the amendments they wanted were voted on today.

My source told me that he thinks this will kill the bill because the Senate has now voted against cloture twice and that means that if they want to bring it back up, they’ll probably have to start from scratch and go through the regular committee process.

PS: I asked my source if his boss has been hearing from his constituents on this bill and what the for and against ratio was. He said that they have received thousands and thousands of calls and the ratio was something like 95%-98% against the bill.

PS #2: I also asked my source why he thought so many Republicans had been supporting such an incredibly unpopular bill. He gave three reasons:

First off, there was what he referred to as the “Rovian School of thought,” which says that passing this bill would capture the Hispanic vote for the GOP for decades to come.

Next up, there’s the “Chamber of Commerce” vote. He says these Republicans were heavily influenced by business groups that want cheap labor no matter what the cost is for the rest of the country.

Then there was the last group, the smallest group in his opinion, who were willing to sign onto a terrible bill just so they could say they were part of a big reform that had bipartisan support.

Correction: There were two cloture votes, not three as the post originally indicated.

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