Sources: Senate GOP on Verge of Amnesty Deal
Conservatives growing uneasy about Kennedy-led negotiations
By Bluey Posted in Featured Stories | Immigration — Comments (14) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Sources on Capitol Hill tell me the Senate may be very close to a deal on comprehensive immigration reform.
But as the immigration deal comes together, Senate conservatives are growing uneasy about the state of the negotiations, fearing that Republican leadership will sell out to the Bush Administration and liberal Democrats to give amnesty to illegal aliens.
The issue boils down to whether Senate Republicans leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Conference Chairman Jon Kyl (Ariz.), will give Democrats a free pass to bring up the bill without ever giving Republicans a chance to review it. Sen. Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.) is leading negotiations for the Democrats, and has so far negotiated a favorable deal for Democrats, according to sources close to the negotiations.
The Senate on Wednesday will be voting on a motion to proceed to last year’s Senate-passed immigration bill. A motion to proceed is a procedural step to start debating the legislation. It would allow leadership to present a bill to the Senate with no time for senators to actually read the legislation.
“There is concern among conservatives on the Hill that leadership will cave in on the motion to proceed on a bill that they’ve never seen,” one senior Senate aide told me. “Conservatives don’t want to do this because they don’t trust that the negotiators will produce a bill that will be satisfactory to conservatives.”
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Last month, 15 conservative Republicans sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) asking for at least a week before debate to review the legislation. Last year’s bill was more than 600 pages long and very complicated.
“It is unconscionable that with an issue of this magnitude and complexity that the Senate would proceed to legislation without any text available to review by senators,” another senior Senate source said.
Just last week, former Attorney General Ed Meese and Senators Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) and Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) unveiled the essential principles for immigration reform. One of those principles is respect for the rule of law, which conservatives fear will be violated by any potential agreement that includes amnesty.
“It’s unlikely that any deal will be cut that will satisfy conservatives,” said Brian Darling, a congressional analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “Any legislation containing ‘Z’ visas is a non-starter because a ‘Z’ visa is an amnesty visa.”