The PATRIOT Act filibuster that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) led on Wednesday evening has proven one big thing: that his colleague from Kentucky, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, agrees with his predecessor that there shouldn’t be open process or debate when the Senate considers major pieces of legislation.
Before Paul forcibly took control of the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—who supports the National Security Agency (NSA) spying program that Paul is filibustering the PATRIOT Act over—had planned on having U.S. Senators vote on Obamatrade on Wednesday evening. The vote was supposed to happen as early as 8 p.m. on Wednesday but before 1 a.m. on Thursday–and now has been bumped at least as far back as 10 a.m. on Thursday. Paul relinquished the floor just before midnight on Wednesday, speaking for more than 10 and a half hours.
What’s perhaps most interesting about both issues—the NSA program that section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows, which is what Paul is highlighting with his filibuster, and the Obamatrade deal that McConnell is trying to ram through Congress—is that McConnell is acting like former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on both, by not allowing an open amendment process on either.
McConnell and his pro-Obamatrade allies have blocked allowing votes on two separate amendments to Obamatrade from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)—ones that would block a “living agreement” contained within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) would fast-track and would stop President Obama from being able to turn trade deals into a dream immigration package for the Wall Street donor class. What’s more, there’s now talk that McConnell might not even allow a vote on a messaging amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)—one that wouldn’t even fix the immigration and guest worker problems in trade deals—even though it’d probably, because it has no teeth, pass the Senate nearly unanimously.
In fact, McConnell’s opposition to an open amendment process—unlike Reid’s tactic of filling the amendment tree, he’s using different Senate procedures to produce the same closed process outcome—has sparked NumbersUSA, an anti-amnesty pro-American worker immigration group, to warn it will score against the trade deal.
“NumbersUSA doesn’t take a position on trade agreements unless they impact immigration,” NumbersUSA’s director of government relations Rosemary Jenks told Breitbart News. “Unfortunately, Senator Hatch, along with Senate Democrats, seems to strenuously oppose Senator Sessions’ amendments that would clearly and effectively prohibit the executive branch from including immigration provisions in free trade agreements. If the administration is not planning to include immigration provisions, and if Senator Hatch is opposed to the inclusion of such provisions, there is absolutely no justification for opposing the Sessions amendments. This leaves us no choice but to score against TPA.”
Sessions’ amendments would actually solve the problem, but Cruz’s wouldn’t, Jenks said—adding that Cruz’s would leave immigration matters in the hands of open borders advocates like House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
“While we appreciate Sen. Cruz’s attention to this important issue, we do not believe that his amendment would effectively prevent the administration from including immigration provisions in the TPP,” Jenks said in an email. “The Cruz amendment leaves enforcement in the hands of Sen. Hatch and Rep. Ryan, both of whom support the mass importation of foreign workers to take American jobs. That is exactly what we are trying to prevent.”
Cruz’s office, given the chance by Breitbart News for more than a week, has refused to answer detailed questions regarding the failures of his immigration amendment to TPA to solve the problems contained within the legislation. Likewise, Hatch’s office and McConnell’s office have refused to answer questions about their opposition to an open amendment process—and about Sessions’ concerns with the TPA deal.
That’s not to mention the fact that only four GOP U.S. Senators have admitted to reading the TPP deal that TPA almost certainly guarantees passage of. Sessions, Paul and Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are the only GOP members of the U.S. Senate who admit to reading the Pacific Rim trade deal—all have serious concerns or are outright opposed to TPA, in large part due to the secrecy of the deal—and Cruz, Hatch and McConnell specifically as well as every other GOP senator has not answered if they have read they TPP deal.
In addition to the closed amendment, rushed trade bill process, McConnell is not allowing amendments on the USA Freedom Act—or the PATRIOT Act.
The office of Sen. Lee issued a release earlier on Wednesday, after the first time he went to the floor to back Paul, in which Lee’s office noted how McConnell is blocking amendments.
“Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he will give the USA Freedom Act a vote, but he has not promised a fair debate on the bill that includes an open amendment process,” Lee’s office wrote. “Senator Paul will be speaking on the floor through Thursday morning calling on Senate leadership to allow votes on his amendments with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to the USA Freedom Act. Senator Lee fully supports these amendments getting votes.”
Lee himself is quoted saying as saying there should be an open amendment process.
“I agree with the junior senator from Kentucky that the American people deserve better than they are getting,” Lee said. “And quite frankly it is time that they expect more from the United States Senate. This is not time for more cliffs, for more secrecy, and more 11th hour backroom deals. It’s time for the kind of bipartisan bicameral consensus that I believe is embodied in the USA Freedom Act.”
Cruz, when joining Paul on the Senate floor late Wednesday, also noted he stands with Paul—and thinks that the Senate should be able to debate amendments in an open process on the Senate floor.
“Can we just spend a couple days trying to amend this?” Paul added as he wrapped his filibuster on Wednesday night by saying.
“Cruz, Paul and Sessions have admirably sought the additional debate and amendment process McConnell promised,” a GOP senate aide also told Breitbart News. “I’m not confident they’re going to get it though which is truly unfortunate.”