Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rebel Yell!

Republican rebels vow to block immigration bill

Rebel Republicans vowed Thursday to use every legislative trick at their disposal to kill a fresh Senate bid to grant a path to eventual citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants.

The measure, part of a sweeping immigration reform, one of President George W. Bush's last hopes for a signature second term domestic achievement, stalled two weeks ago, but is expected to get a second chance early next week.

But Republican opponents, pressured by conservative activists, have branded the bill as "amnesty" for those who broke the law to get into America, and rejected a 4.4 billion dollar attempt to placate them with a border crackdown.

"Many of us are going to use every procedural tool we can to try to stop this bill," said Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter.

"Exactly how that will play out, I can't predict."

Opponents say Democratic Majority leader Harry Reid has thwarted their attempts to make a genuine attempt to amend the huge bill.

Republican Senator Jim DeMint said such tactics had thwarted the Senate's constitutional role of deliberately testing proposed laws.

"The whole idea that we are the institution where your pour the hot coffee out of the cup into the saucer and let it cool -- in this case, we're being asked to drink it right out of the spout," he said.

Supporters of the bill however accuse opponents of trying to bring up "killer amendments" to fracture the fragile cross-party coalition of bi-partisan senators which negotiated it behind closed doors.

Supporters of the bill must piece together a super majority of 60 votes in the 100-member Senate in order to trump any blocking tactics by its critics.

An attempt by Reid to move it forward two weeks ago foundered by 15 votes.

The bill grants a path to legal status to illegal immigrants, strengthens border enforcement and initiates a low wage guest worker program.

The sweeping overhaul would also replace the current family-dominated immigration system with a merit-based points formula and attempt to cut a huge backlog for permanent resident green card applicants.

Top Democrats in the House of Representatives have already warned that Bush must cajole up to 70 Republicans to back the deal, as it is likely to be spurned by Democratic lawmakers from conservative districts.

Most observers believe that if the bill fails to make it through Congress this year, it will be dead, as it will get caught up in the political maelstrom of congressional and professional elections in 2008.

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