The Prospects For The Amnesty Bill Today

by John Hawkins | June 28, 2007 7:45 am

Technically, even if the cloture bill fails today, there is one more chance to kill it, when the final vote on the bill comes up. However, realistically, the cloture vote today is going to decide the fate of the bill. If it gets 60 votes, the amnesty bill is going to make it through the Senate.

So, is it going to pass?

Well, while it’s still possible that it could go either way, if I had to bet a grand on which way it was going, I’d bet on the bill going down in flames today. Again, that’s not a definite, but the math is definitely in our favor.

Let me tell you why I say that.

Towards the end of the week last week, the momentum was going our way after a string of “toss-up” senators turned on the bill. But then, right before the bill was voted on, the momentum broke back towards the amnesty side hard when some more key senators said they’d vote for cloture. Then things started to get really dark, when the word was that there would be no amendments put forth before the 2nd cloture vote happened — reason being, if you voted for the first cloture vote with the expectation of not having any amendments debated until after the 2nd vote, why change your mind?

However, Reid was pressured into bringing amendments to the floor before the 2nd cloture vote and some key amendments lost. Moreover, the way things were handled, with Harry Reid handing out a 400 page bill less than 24 hours before the scheduled vote on Thursday, really played into the hands of the anti-amnesty forces. That’s because the meme they’ve really been pushing with the other senators is that this process isn’t fair, that minority rights are being squelched, and that even Republicans who would otherwise support the bill should oppose it because of that.

In addition, I’m starting to think that some of these senators who voted “yes” on the first cloture vote were doing what Mickey Kaus[1] calls “reverse kabuki.” They want to show the White House and pro-amnesty Republicans that they’re giving them every chance to get their bill through, before they vote to kill it.

But, let’s cut through the “Chaffey” — we need at least 5 votes to switch (assuming no senators switch from “yes” on cloture to “no,”) and the math seems to say that we’re going to get those votes. Here’s the Bloomberg breakdown[2] of which senators say they’re thinking of switching from a “yes” to a “no” on cloture,

“The fate of U.S. immigration legislation was cast into doubt when at least six senators who helped revive the proposed overhaul said they either oppose or are leaning against a move to permit a vote on final passage.

Republicans Richard Burr of North Carolina and Christopher Bond of Missouri and Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska said they oppose permitting a vote on final passage. Virginia Democrat Jim Webb and Republicans John Ensign of Nevada and Pete Domenici of New Mexico said they were leaning that way.

Five other senators who voted to resume the debate said they are undecided on the next procedural test. They are Republicans Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Democrats Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.”

I gotta tell you, folks, we can still lose, but you can’t help but like those odds. We need 5 switches and we have 3 that definitely say that they’re going our way, 3 that say they’re leaning our way, and 5 that are saying that they’re undecided. It’s also worth noting that Robert Menendez[3] is saying that he’s undecided. Additionally, it’s anybody’s guess as to what Norm Coleman will do. (Coleman seems to be planning to vote for amnesty) Furthermore, believe it or not, from what I’ve been hearing, I even think there’s an outside chance that Mitch McConnell could vote against cloture.

Moreover, here’s something else you have to consider: if it looks like the odds are against the bill passing, how many of these senators are going to vote for an incredibly unpopular bill even if they think it will probably go down to defeat? Maybe some of these guys, like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Trent Lott are so associated with this bill that they figure they might as well go down with the ship, but do the senators who haven’t been lumped in with one side or the other really want to go out in a “blaze of glory,” too? My guess is that a lot of them are going to think really hard about the wisdom of doing that before the vote.

So, no guarantees, but I think we’re in pretty good shape going into the vote later today. Cross your fingers…

Update #1: According to an article in Congressional Quarterly[4], Gordon H. Smith is “contemplating switching (his) vote” and voting to kill the bill, but Debbie Stabenow, who voted against cloture last time, is saying she will “probably” vote against cloture. So, she’s leaving open the possibility that she will switch and vote for the bill.

Update #2: I don’t agree with Robert Novak on everything, but I will say this for him: his sources on the Hill are probably about as good as you’re ever going to find.

Here’s what he says about the vote on the bill today[5],

Although the Senate, as expected, voted Tuesday to bring back the immigration reform bill, the consensus is that the cloture vote on the bill will fail Thursday. Even if it succeeds and the bill actually passes the Senate, there appears little chance of its passing the House (with opposition there on both sides of the aisle, especially among Republicans). Nobody will succeed politically as a result of the bill’s defeat, but the biggest loser will be the divided Republican Party.

Update #3: Yesterday, I wrote John Ensign’s press secretary and complained that during his interview with me, he seemed to be indicating that he could not support the bill unless it had an exit visa in it, but yet, he voted for cloture on Tuesday, despite the fact it doesn’t have that in the bill.

His press secretary wrote back that the first vote was to allow more debate, but he was also non-committal about what John Ensign would do today.

Well, just now, John Randall, the ePress Secretary for the RNSC just wrote me the following message,

“Sen. Ensign Will Vote No on today’s cloture vote.”

Given how tight this thing is, having another definite “no” vote is very big — especially since there are so many undecided senators. The more certain they become that this bill is going to fail, the less inclined they will be to climb out on a limb and vote for it.

All I can say is thank you, Senator Ensign! We’re lucky to have this guy running the National Republican Senatorial Committee[6].

If you want to say thanks to him for standing up against amnesty when it counts, chipping in a few bucks to the NRSC would be a good way to do it.

Update #4: Michelle Malkin[7] is liveblogging the floor debate in the Senate. The cloture vote is scheduled for 10:50 PM EST.

Update #5: According to Jeff Sessions, the phone system in the Senate has literally shut down because of the volume of calls that are coming in.

  1. Mickey Kaus:
  2. Bloomberg breakdown:
  3. Robert Menendez:
  4. Congressional Quarterly:
  5. what he says about the vote on the bill today:
  6. National Republican Senatorial Committee:
  7. Michelle Malkin:

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