Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) spokesman says he’s voted “against amnesty in every chance he’s gotten.” However, a review of his voting record shows that’s not true.
Cochran voted against an amendment to strip amnesty provisions from a 2006 bill, as well as against several amendments to strengthen border enforcement.
In 2006, an immigration bill offered by Sen. Arlen Specter, then a Republican, included amnesty for certain types of illegal immigrants. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) offered an amendment to remove the amnesty language from the bill.
“The Vitter amendment would remove provisions authorizing the ‘earned legalization’ and ‘agricultural worker’ amnesty schemes that would grant amnesty to an estimated 16 million illegal aliens and their families,” Numbers USA, an anti-amnesty grassroots group, wrote about that amendment.
The Vitter amendment failed 66-33–with Cochran voting against it–and the Specter bill containing amnesty went on to pass the U.S. Senate. A majority of Republicans–57 percent–voted for Vitter’s amendment. Cochran voted against the full Specter bill.
That same year, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) offered an amendment to another bill that would have strengthened requirements regarding a forthcoming border fence that had still not been built at that point. “This was an amendment to add 370 miles of fence on the Southwest border paid for by $1.8 billion in offsets from other programs,” Numbers USA wrote about that Sessions amendment. “A fence is one of the most effective tools for preventing illegal migration.”
Cochran also voted against that amendment, which split Republicans 27-27 and lost in the Senate 29-71.
In 2009, Cochran opposed an amendment from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill that Numbers USA wrote would have required “that the 700 miles of border fencing (which was previously approved and appropriated for) be completed.”
The DeMint amendment passed 54-44. Not only did over 80 percent of Republicans vote for it, 21 Democrats, or 36 percent of the Democratic caucus, did as well–yet not Cochran, who was one of seven GOP “no” votes.
The border fence has still not been built.
Last year, while Cochran ultimately voted against final passage and final cloture on the Gang of Eight bill, he did vote to advance the bill on the “motion to proceed.” That procedural measure, which passed without much opposition 82-15, allowed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to take the bill to the floor and maneuver it through an organized process to take it to final passage of the bill, 68-32.
Jordan Russell, Cochran’s campaign spokesman who originally made the claim about Cochran’s voting record on immigration, did not respond to a request for comment.
Cochran is in a tough primary campaign against state senator Chris McDaniel.
McDaniel has been gaining steam in the primary, and was recently rated by Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics as the most likely primary challenger of any Republican in the 2014 cycle to pull off a victory. National groups like Club for Growth are active in Mississippi with ads backing up McDaniel, having launched new ads this past week focusing on how–as Breitbart News reported–Cochran has named more buildings and government programs after himself than any other lawmaker in the United States Congress right now.