Reid: Immigration bill will be 'finished by recess'
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he expects the immigration reform bill to be done by the 4th of July recess. That doesn't give opponents very much time to bring pressure to bear on GOP Senators to opppose the bill.
Reid has scheduled a vote on Monday on the controversial "border security" plan hashed out by Senators Corker and Hoeven last week. He expects to have a cloture vote on the entire bill on Thursday.
The amendment from Hoeven and Corker would require the construction of 700 miles of southern border fencing, the purchase of more than $3 billion in new technology for border security and the hiring of 20,000 more border patrol agents. The Department of Homeland Security would have 10 years to implement those requirements.
Supporters of the Senate bill hope to win at least 70 votes in support of their legislation, which they believe would build pressure on the House to take up the measure.
House Republicans have criticized the Senate bill, with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) expressing opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. Boehner has also vowed only to bring immigration legislation to the floor that is backed by a majority of his conference.
The House Judiciary Committee has been working on piecemeal immigration bills, but Schumer on Friday said no final bill would make it to President Obama's desk without a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.
"No bill on immigration reform will be signed into law by the president without a path to citizenship," Schumer said. "It is essential for any immigration reform. So those who think they can get pieces of this bill without comprehensive immigration reform are sadly, sadly mistaken."
Reid said he hopes to hold some amendment votes next week.
The Senate has so far considered only 12 amendments to the bill, most of which were GOP amendments aimed at ensuring border security measures occurred before any immigrants were granted legal status.
"We're going to continue to try to work to allow people to offer amendments," Reid said. "Most of them won't pass, but that's not the point. ... It would be nice if people elected to this body were able to offer some amendments, but we haven't been able to over come the objection of a small minority of senators."
Corker said Friday that border security would be so strong under the language being added to the bill that only those looking for any excuse to oppose it could do so.
There are a couple of zingers in the "border security" amendment that make a mockery of the idea. The ten year phase in of border security measures is fantasy. Some of those provisions are left up to the discretion of the Secretary of DHS - the same problem every border security measure passed by Congress has had in the last decade.
The entire amendment is a mirage designed to allow Senators to claim to support border security while voting for comprehensive immigration reform. In short, it takes them off the hook.
Let's hope House members are made of sterner stuff.