On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blocked a vote on the border security amendment to the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill offered by Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
Grassley was pushing for an up-or-down vote by the Senate on his amendment, which would have required the border to be secured for six full months before any legalization of illegal immigrants in America began. Reid objected to Grassley’s motion, effectively implementing a 60-vote threshold that completely blocked any attempt at a fair vote on the amendment.
Grassley protested Reid’s plan, which the Senate Majority Leader laughed off. “I’m somewhat surprised at this request,” Reid said in response. “How many times have we heard the Republican Leader say on this floor and publicly that the new reality in the United States Senate is 60?”
So I just thought I was following the direction of the Republican Leader. I mean, this is what he said. That’s why we’re having 60 votes on virtually everything. And with this bill, with this bill, no one can in any way suggest this bill is not important and these amendments aren’t important. So, I care a great deal about my friend, the ranking member on this committee, but I object.
Grassley responded with fury to Reid’s obstruction. “Well, it’s amazing to me that the majority has touted this immigration bill process as one that is open and regular order, but right out of the box, just on the third day, they want to subject our amendments to a filibuster like a 60-vote threshold.”
“So I have to ask, who is obstructing now?” Grassley said. “There is no reason, particularly in this first week, at the beginning of the process, to be blocking our amendments with a 60-vote margin that’s required when you suppose there is a filibuster.”
Grassley said the Senate should “at least start out” the immigration process with “regular order.”
“Otherwise, it really looks like the fix is in and the bill is rigged to pass basically as it is,” Grassley said. “Bottom line, you should have seen how the 18 members of the Judiciary Committee operated for five or six days over a two-week period of time.”
“Everything was open, everything was transparent,” he explained. “There was a complete cooperation between the majority and the minority, and there is no reason why we can’t do that out here in the United States Senate right now and particularly at the beginning.”
“This is a very provocative act,” Grassley warned.
Grassley was not the only senator who expressed dissatisfaction with the process Reid was using on the Senate floor. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who voted in favor of the bill coming out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said during a floor speech that he is concerned votes on his amendments will be blocked as well.
“I was promised by leaders in the Gang of Eight they would work with me, that they would help me to get these things done,” Hatch said. “I consider those promises to be very important, and yet I’ve had some indication over the last few days that maybe they’re not going to work with me.”
“I don’t think anybody’s acted in better good faith than I have,” Hatch claimed. “As I’ve said, I’d like to support the bill, and make no mistake about it, I don’t want people stiffing me on things I consider to be important without even talking, without even working with me to resolve any problems they may have. And, I’m not the kind of guy who takes that lightly.”
Hatch went on to say he thinks there is “too much partisanship around here anyway.”
“If this is going to be a political exercise, count me out,” Hatch said. “If this is an exercise to really try and resolve the amnesty issues, if it’s an exercise to really really try and resolve these critical issues, I can be counted in.”
“Maybe I don’t mean that much in this debate, but if you look at some of the major sections of this bill, I helped work them out and I’ll help work out this bill not only with colleagues on this side but with colleagues on the other side of Capitol Hill. And I don’t want to be stiffed at this time and I’m not the kind of guy who takes stiffing lightly,” Hatch warned.